February 2004 Newsletter

Your Binder Works.

Why Doesn't Your Website?

**** The 4specs Perspective

I consistently hear complaints about websites, yet I hear few complaints about 3-ring binders. Why?

The marketing department developed most architectural binders. Probably, most binders evolved over many years with pages and products being added or deleted periodically. Every 10 years or so the binders probably had at least one major revision.

A binder contains all the information needed to incorporate the products into an architect's design. Frequently, the only color materials are a Sweets-type 4 to16 page brochure. The rest of the binder has black and white data sheets and design guides.

On the other hand, consultants or IT departments have developed websites. And they do not know the design process used by architects and specifiers. Often the web designer is more concerned with making a website technologically up-to-date, incorporating the latest web design tools, than focusing on the usability of the information. Therefore, the designer does not ensure that the architect can find the information needed to make design decisions.

I advocate simple web design focused on providing the design information necessary to make informed design and specification decisions. My perspective is closer to that of consultants working with website search engine optimization than a web designer.

I developed a sample website to demonstrate how to do a simple website that can be effectively used by architects and specifiers. It is intended to demonstrate a simple, effective website and not supposed to be a restrictive web proposal. FYI, this document was published by the Construction Sciences Research Foundation. [CSRF has been merged and the WebFormat document is now carried on the 4specs website]

The complete WebFormat™ document is in PDF format. Visit the sample pages used in the document to see the document in action:

Some specifics to include on your website follow:

Here are specific things I think you should avoid. I will be discussing these in future articles:

An example of a simple and easy to use website follows. I believe this was developed inside the company and not done by a web consultant. This website looks very different than WebFormat, yet the simplicity shows the products well:

This website is simple, visual and easy to use.

If you have a question on these topics, let me know. We can talk about it.


Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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