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Characteristics of A Great Website|
Few fields are as dependent on effective networking for success as the recruiting industry. In fact, recruiters are the networking experts. As such, this industry is a very logical one to implement the broad capabilities of HyperText. A great Website design that makes sophisticated use of HyperText is a form of effective networking. Recruiters are the networking experts.
Website design is rooted in HyperText, still so new that few people can even imagine its long-term implications. With HyperText, the reader controls how much information to absorb and has access to as many connections as the designer wishes to embed in the Website. HyperText, covered in more depth in Chapter 3, is a form of language that is based in electronic networking
The jury is still out on standard design principles for Websites. As is the case with many aspects of the technology, Website design guidance is evolving along with the rest of the on-line industry. One thing is sure, great design in a Website has the user at its priority.
It's easier to notice what doesn't work in a Website than it is to articulate practices worth doing. Firms with poorly designed and executed Websites often treat information as if the computer screen were simply a glowing piece of paper. They also usually make the mistake of assuming that the Website's user wants to know everything about the firm behind the Website.
When I go in the front door of Macy's, I notice the store's name, but I've never had a Macy's organization chart, mission statement or policy manual handed to me as I arrive. What I encounter is Macy's quality merchandise, selection and service. Sometimes, Macy's blows it and I don't return for a while; at other times, the store gets it right and captures a larger share of my discretionary income as a result. Macy's, however, never bores me with its goals, aspirations, internal politics or grandiose visions. It simply provides me with merchandise and service.
Just as my interest in a Macy's is limited to what the store can do for me, most users' interest in a Website is based on how well it meets their needs, not the needs of the firm responsible for the Website.
In other words, visiting a great Website is more like going to Macy's than it is like reading a brochure.
Figure 8a. Hierarchical Website Design
Figure 8a is a graphical representation of most approaches to design. The home page is seen as the "gateway" to the rest of the Website and emphasizes the firm's identity. The Website's design assumes that all visitors will come in through the front door.
The most commonly made mistake in Website development is the attempt to create a self-contained universe centered around the interests of the firm. The type of hierarchical design illustrated in Figure 8a, which is like an old-fashioned organization chart, imposes a layer of data that users, or visitors may consider unnecessary layer between them and the information (jobs database, links, professional assistance) they consider to be of value. The Website's design places the firm's structural information (company description) on a par with the services the firm offers.
The current state of Website design facilitates such a hierarchical approach. Among other things, such a hierarchical structure makes it easier for a firm to keep track of the files that compose a Website. Unfortunately, this design approach places a higher emphasis on the convenience of the Website's provider than on its users, who are the firm's current or potentially future clients.
Figure 8b. Network-based Website Design
Although presented here as a two-dimensional figure, a well-designed Website is more spherical in shape.
Figure 8b is an attempt to describe a great Website design visually. Network-based Website design assumes that a relationship with the firm behind the Website comes after visitors have a positive experience with the information products presented. The design starts with a user-based orientation.
The two approaches to Website design also differ in their marketing orientation. The hierarchical design assumes that the firm needs to be marketed in and of itself. The network-based design assumes that each of the information products has its own distinct marketing requirements. Each information product also has a set of connections to other relevant parts of the Net, treating the Net as a whole unit. For recruiters, the more professional approach to Website design, and the one that makes the most of HyperText and other Net features, is the network-based design. To succeed, this type of design approach requires designing excellence into each of the Website's collateral components.
This is an excerpt from the 1997 Electronic Recruiting Index.
It appears in Chapter 8 of the book.
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