Archive for January, 2009|Monthly archive page
There is a book in our office that has been required reading for all staff members for the last 3 years. This book is called “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug. The book is about usability of website design and how you don’t want to have your site visitors have to think when they visit your website. There should be a clear purpose to the site that spells out to the site visitor what you want them to do next, whether it is to fill out a contact form, buy a product, pick up the phone and call you, request a quote now, search for a dealer in their area, refer your site to a friend or apply now.
The book is deceptively simple and most of the information in it seems so straight forward and obvious, because… well, it is. It is a clear message that doesn’t require thought and offers examples of how to enact better usability on your website, or websites you produce.
It is easy to get caught up in the message of your site without thinking about how that message is being received by others. Sure a 5,000 word dissertation on what your product does can be informative, but it can also be overkill, or even boring and not worth the time of a busy internet suffer who is just trying to determine if your product can provide the particular benefit they are looking for.
When you are the provider of a product or service it is easy to be too close to the message – too “in-the-know” to be able to see how the site is coming across to others who are not “in-the-know” on your product or service. Maybe usability testing is something you should consider. This is basically a test audience who does not know your company and it’s products or services. Let them navigate your site and see if they get it as quickly as you think they will.
Usability studies can be as simple as inviting a trusted friend over to try out your site and give feedback to doing a full fledged study with hired testers, video taped sessions, surveys and reporting. However you do it, do at least something so you have good, third-party feedback on your site.
Most importantly, think of your call-to-action – that clear purpose to the site that spells out to the site visitor what you want them to do next. Make sure your call to action is ever-present, on every page, reminding your visitors what you expect them to do next. Sometimes a little redundancy is ok.
No matter how optimistically it is presented, no matter how often it is mentioned that “everyone’s onboard” and no matter how much you want to believe it will work for the better, design by committee is a process that delays the completion of a website that no one involved will be happy with.
I have seen this situation play out countless times on website development projects throughout the years. When a committee is involved everyone has to compromise to some degree yet no one wants to. Someone has to sign off on design work yet no one is willing to do so until everyone is in agreement. Someone has to direct the design team and provide timely feedback yet no one wants do so independently without a scheduled meeting.
Everyday, sites with a single point of contact move quickly through the system. There is less spreading out of the information that is shared, so consultations have more impact. Impromptu meetings can occur on a moments notice. Feedback is immediate. All involved in the project stay engaged from start to finish.
Don’t let your website development project become a burden and use your committee as an excuse to procrastinate until later – have a single point of contact for your website that is committed to it’s delivery.