Steve Martin

Designer, Thinker, Student of Human Behavior

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Filtering by Tag: web design

If you want a good site, ask the right questions

Once again, Seth Godin is full of great advice.  His recent post "Things to ask before you redo your website" has a list of brilliant questions you should ask not ONLY when doing a redesign, but when building any site at all.  As I often say, when designing a website the last thing you should do is design. Here's the list answer these questions and you'll increase the effectiveness of your site exponentially:

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  • What is the goal of the site?
  • In other words, when it's working great, what specific outcomes will occur?
  • Who are we trying to please? If it's the boss, what does she want? Is impressing a certain kind of person important? Which kind?
  • How many people on your team have to be involved? At what level?
  • Who are we trying to reach? Is it everyone? Our customers? A certain kind of prospect?
  • What are the sites that this group has demonstrated they enjoy interacting with?
  • Are we trying to close sales?
  • Are we telling a story?
  • Are we earning permission to follow up?
  • Are we hoping that people will watch or learn?
  • Do we need people to spread the word using various social media tools?
  • Are we building a tribe of people who will use the site to connect with each other?
  • Do people find the site via word of mouth? Are they looking to answer a specific question?
  • Is there ongoing news and updates that need to be presented to people?
  • Is the site part of a larger suite of places online where people can find out about us, or is this our one sign post?
  • Is that information high in bandwidth or just little bits of data?
  • Do we want people to call us?
  • How many times a month would we like people to come by? For how long?
  • Who needs to update this site? How often?
  • How often can we afford to overhaul this site?
  • Does showing up in the search engines matter? If so, for what terms? At what cost? Will we be willing to compromise any of the things above in order to achieve this goal?
  • Will the site need to be universally accessible? Do issues of disability or language or browser come into it?
  • How much money do we have to spend? How much time?

And finally,

  • Does the organization understand that 'everything' is not an option?

Semantics vs. Presentation

The other day one of my coder buddies and I were having a discussion about getting a site to look right in IE, and he says to me, "Semantics trumps presentation." ...

WHAT?!!

Maybe I'm missing something here, but when I go to a website, I'm looking at the PRESENTATION, not the code.  Yeah yeah, good code is important, yadda yadda, but let's take off our geekster hats for a minute and look at the real world of the web.  When someone comes to your website, and it doesn't LOOK good, they're gone - and gone waaaaaay before they have a chance to scroll down and see your W3C compliancy badges at the bottom of the page.

Let's focus on good design that works.  That should be the focus of any site out there.  Is the design working for the site?  "Working" could mean driving sales, encouraging feedback, conveying information, or whatever the purpose of the site is.  Nobody cares what the markup is - it's the presentation that matters.  Get the presentation where it ought to be, then go under the hood and tune the engine.  And if the only way to adjust the carbeurator is with a piece of wire, then more power to ya.