Greater Sliced Bread
Posted by David Polakoff on February 20, 2009
The Windmills of My Immediate Mind
Media Business Strategies – David Polakoff
Greater Sliced Bread
Niche website or web portal; banner ads, pre-rolls, or overlays; subscription or micro-payments – these are the talk of the (internet) town; but regarding website viability, where’s the discussion of design, usability, and functionality?
Whether through client engagement, media trade reading, personal consumption, referral, or accidental tourist, I visit a lot of websites. Whether a site is “bookmark worthy” depends upon the first 60 seconds of perusal and the answers to these questions:
Understandable purpose – The home page should tell me what the site provides, with plainspeak text – not in Haiku, not like Dostoyevsky, or not in euphemisms where the Arts & Science major finally finds the creative writing outlet. And the home page shouldn’t overwhelm, like the first time Orphan Annie walked through Times Square; keep it simple, intriguing, and entice me inward.
Ease of Use – The site design should not resemble a corn maze. I should be able to readily return to main pages, yet not have to hunt and peck to re-locate underlying detail- and without nine click-throughs. Page layouts should not be so format unique that I have to learn how to use the current page after I just mastered the previous page. And, I shouldn’t need a manual or video to explain how to use the site.
Presence of standard website features – Home, About Us, Facts, The Team, Contact Us, Help, Search, My Account, Log-Out, Return, Site Map – should be accessible from every page. Don’t make me pack a flashlight and extra sandwiches for the return trip to the basic pages and most common and necessary data points.
Fulfills a need – I hope to be well-served from the website whether for personal or business transacting or for frivolity. If there are be features to be rolled-out, tell me, so I’ll come back (or better yet, allow me to be pinged when available). Does it beat, match, or complement other websites in the similar arena (e.g., music listening; news; sports) or is it inferior and I’ve no need to return? If I use your site in tandem with another, will I eventually prefer yours?
Recommendable – Do I immediately think of a friend or colleague who absolutely will love the site because of his/her interest and need (and it satisfies all of my previous litmus tests)?
I’ve been engaged for website business logic projects – it is detailed, onerous, and tedious. Today, though, any development team should be able to “blindly” create customary website features. Numerous sites fail my tests and I wonder why a team would not use best practices from their own user experiences.
Before the company department heads start foaming up about playing with the mix of revenue streams, data mining, and this month’s metrics report, first make sure your content, design, and usability provides overwhelming consumer satisfaction.