Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I get by with a little help from my friends with a little help from my friends...

Kim Krause and I have three things in common... we both agree driving a kid-taxi is our real full time job (this SEO thing is totally second banana), we've both been wearing the same long-straight hair style since high school and we've both been 29 for at least 10 years now.

....Okokok, it's really more like 18 years (for one of us and no I won't tell which) but who's counting when you're having this much fun? Kim has written another timeless usability piece so park it and enjoy!

In User Centered Design, Performance Matters Because We're Lazy
Written by Kim Krause Berg

Suddenly, with passion and close scrutiny, web site owners are discovering their web site navels. It's the same thing as watching my kids discover their belly buttons for the first time. Without fail, each of them has asked, "Mom? What the heck is this thing for?"

And so it is, that today, the popular mantra is no longer, "I gotta have a web site."

It's been changed to, "Why do I have a web site?" and even better (the really aware ones) will ask, "Is this web site really serving the needs of my web site visitors?"

When Do We Check Under The Hood?

The most common type of contact I receive is from people who are redesigning their web sites or considering one. They want to know if they should get a usability evaluation before or after the redesign.

These site owners no longer question needing help with usability and user centered design. They already know their website has conversion issues. This is because in today's Internet environment, performance matters over mere existence.

Even search engines are researching user behavior. This explains why you never know what to expect each time you use one. They're watching your every move. Their eye tracking software is following test subject eyeballs. Their computers are counting your clicks, and well, they even know where your house is, but don't even get me on that topic.

To answer the "When should I get my site evaluated" question, my answer is "Now".

Web site reviews are performed while you're thinking about usability. Or, while you are scribbling the layout on napkins, or drawing the information architecture on the white board before you meet with stakeholders (who will change it all anyway. Keeping a set of usability guidelines nearby will help hold you to this commmittment to your end users

Usability Consultant, Kimberly Krause Berg, is the owner of, (, Cre8asiteForums and co-founder of the Cre8asiteNetwork . Her background in organic SEO combined with web site usability consulting offers unique insight into web site development.

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