Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ninety Two Year-old Aunt Helen Vs. The Web Developers




Web sites have come a long way in the past five years, which became evident at two presentations I saw yesterday before one of the communications groups I belong too. Twenty six dollars for browning roast beef, honey mustard dressing, and the salad greens I buy at the market and scoop out with tongs.

The space was nice but the Topaz Hotel should be ashamed of itself. My local deli would have done a much better job.

First of all these were old presentations. The world is changing way too fast to do presentations pretty much on anything that was developed more than a year ago. You used to be able to get away with 3-5 years when there was a computer and only the beginnings of the Internet.

I designed my web site two years ago and I’m embarrassed at how dated it is. And it’s much better than these.

What was wrong with these sites? Let’s start with the one for senior citizens, whose presenter's lessons learned after four years of research and development on a plain HTML site were:

• Nothing should be more than two clicks away.
• Don’t clutter up the page.
• Use the same headings on every page for consistency.
• Organize your content organized clearly and simply.

Duh - isn't that Web 1.0? Did I miss a decade or something.

Maybe these were Big Ideas to the federal government web designers, the ones who make sites that have so much stuff on them you can never find what you are looking for. The search engine was Boolean, which basically means it was created by developers who know how to look things up on the sites they build.

There was not a word said about any of the things that matter right now - SEO, integration with other forms of media, branding, whether or not anyone uses them, what they think? They are working on a redesign of the site.

Somewhere in there was one piece of information I could use. It had a button that would help make the font bigger. Yipee.

To be fair, at the time this site was designed elderly people were just learning to turn on a computer. Now I’d match 92 year-old great aunt Helen with any teenager I know.

Part two of the worst web site presentations ever tomorrow.

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