January 2004 Newsletter
What should be in your Website Design Request?
12 Website Design Decisions - Your Business or Organization Will Need to Make Correctly (or you'll have to do it all over within a year) - an interesting article by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, E-Commerce Consultant that covers much of the talk I am giving at CSI. A different perspective than my talk, and I do not agree with all of his points; you decide which is best for you path.
What are some of the items that should be in your website design request - be it for an outside consultant or an inside IT department?
First, let's look at the poor results that can result from incomplete website design requests:
Here are the basic items I propose should be in your website design request:
- You fail to get specified because the user cannot easily find the design information he needs to complete his design and specifications.
- You have additional costs to expand or maintain over time. You have to go back to the designer for every change, including simple changes.
- You lost FREE search engine referrals due to the new design.
- Some users cannot use your website. The new design uses the latest technology that is not always available to the design professional.
- Make it easy for architects and engineers to find and get the product and design information they need from your website.
- Make it easy for contractors to get submittal sheets and MSDS sheets.
- Get all the free users you can from search engines and directories.
- Make it easy to maintain and expand your website. Turn over the completed website to the marketing department in a format editable by FrontPage or DreamWeaver (perhaps using Contribute). Instruct you on how to make changes to the website and upload the changes.
Let's look at your website designer's objectives (somewhat sarcastically):
- Make money
- Use your website to help get their next website project
- Learn about and use all the latest tools and tricks to design your spiffy new website, and to help them get their next project, or employment.
Jakob Nielsen is a well known consultant on website usability. His UseIt Colmun is a great resource. [In 2013 renamed and link changed] His December 22, 2003 newsletter article entitled Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2003 covers much of the same information in my CSI Talk. Here is a quote from Jakob Nielsen from another article:
…[A] "company that wants to waste money on an unworkable website can easily find designers eager to take the money in exchange for a beautiful, if useless, site." - Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox #200
For 2004 I propose you work towards to a simpler web design with focus on usability for the design architect and specifier. Rather than starting with a splash page and a fancy home page on your website, start with your 3-ring binder and develop the website from there. Everything in the binder should be easily found on your website.
Publisher - 4specs