In some ways, working for so long as a Webmaster and marketing guy has ruined the web for me. Where most users see websites from a utilitarian point of view, I have trouble not being critical. My experience becomes so much “inside baseball” that it’s sometimes hard to realize what the web is really meant to be.
A sea of problems, errors and out right omissions, is what I see. Often that’s part and parcel of doing redesign work: if it wasn’t broken, they wouldn’t need me.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common problems and how to avoid them.
- The Mediocre, the Bland and the Ugly – design is important. An ugly design will send people scurrying off the to competition before they even take the time to find out about your company. Mediocre design, by the same suit, tells the reader “We’re Number 2,” again a message we don’t want to send. Bland design can be even worse, because it doesn’t give the reader a message at all. It fails to deliver substance, and fails to to motivate the user to do anything other than go somewhere else.
- The IBM Effect – have you ever tried to find information on the IBM website about a specific product? Wes Craven must be their webmaster, as the experience is a *total nightmare*. That’s not because the information isn’t there, it most certainly is. The problem isn’t lack of information, it’s the sheer over abundance of information, which can (and in my case, has) taken days to sift through. We need to make our information easy to find via search, and in cases where we really do have vast libraries, we ought to have both a highly developed search function and perhaps the ability to contact someone to help us navigate the seas of text. I dare you to find the installation documentation for Websphere 6.2 on their site…it’s there, but you’ll find more documentation than NASA has for the Space Shuttle…
- Construction Zone – If it isn’t ready, don’t launch it. Nothing is worse than a site that tells customers you never finish what you start…
- The Time Capsule – Set it and forget it may work for Ron Popiel and chickens, but it’s death on the web. If you’ve got a press release from 2005 on your homepage, you need to rethink what you’re doing.
- My Way or the Highway – Potential customer love it when you make them jump through hoops. Make them register to get whitepapers, force them to watch a splash page, and you’re sure to sent them running for the hills.