Friday, October 12, 2007

A Collection of Details

Everyone knows the expression, "God is in the details." The idea, as heretical as it may be to make this topical jump, applies just as well to advertising and, especially, to website design.

It's amazing how often I've gone to websites and been thwarted by some aspect of the design, actually hindered from doing what I need to do on the site. In most cases, this clumsiness of design directly results in an inability to, say, make a purchase or find a product or store. Don't people realize this? If I go to a website and can't find out how to telephone the company, or if a page takes 5 minutes to load, then the bottom line is that I will probably leave the website (and the product) and never look back.

Usability carries over into things like aesthetics and good writing too. A website that looks thrown together, text overrun with bad grammar and spelling mistakes, broken links and outdated information -- these things show that you don't actually care about your customers' experience. Or worse, that you think that they won't notice when you cut corners. We've said it before, but things like careless writing simply scream "unreliable" and "shoddy." Do you think people won't notice? Think again.

This isn't just useless griping. When my experience on a website is pleasant and smooth, I might not consciously think, "Wow, everything here is spelled correctly" or,"The pages sure load quickly!" On the other hand, I'll be left with an overall satisfaction with my experience, and I'll associate that satisfaction with the website and, by extension, with the company itself. Good craftsmanship (be it in design, programming, writing, or anything else) doesn't draw attention to itself, and therein lies its success. Rather than fume over the fact that I'm sitting in front of a screen waiting for a page to load, or stumbling over misplaced commas, I'm able to fully immerse myself in the actual content of the site, open and receptive to what it has to say.

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