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Characteristics of A Great Website|
8.7 Some Do's and Don'ts In Website Development
Always start with your customer. Who are they, what do they want. The Internet enables the building of very personal relationships with each individual customer. The most exciting applications of Web techniques will be integrating your operations with your client's.
The following list runs from A to Z and covers the major Do's and Don'ts of Web development.
a. Long term commitment is the most important ingredient in Website design. The environment is risky and taxing. Fully six percent of the Recruiting Websites that were active in July, 1995 were shut down or moved in September, 1995. The mortality rate of new Websites is high because the maintenance, marketing and improvement costs are always underestimated. The allure of a new site can blind the business team.
b. As hard as it is to believe, misspellings are endemic on the Web. Always use a spell checker and then double check the spelling.
c. Contact information is critical in these early stages of Electronic Commerce. Always keep contact information no more than one click away from your reader. The reason you need contact information is to reassure the reader. So, always have a name attached to the contact information. Even a fictional name will do, if that's how you want to track things in your office. At a minimum, include:
Contact information provides tangible reassurance that you are who you say you are. This is a critical foundation for any relationship you will develop in the Electronic World. It's surprising how few Website designers attend to this basic question. You simply won't get as much business if you don't.
- Company Name
- Contact Person
- City, State, Postal Code
d. There are ten basic requirements for a successful recruiting Website.
1. Clearly identify the clients and candidates that you want to serve.
2. Envision it as an Enterprise, not a Website.
3. Provide security for clients and candidates alike.
4. Develop irresistible content so that they will want to come to you and return.
5. Encourage on-line resume submittal and job applications.
6. On the first visit, give something of value to each visitor.
7. Use automation to make exquisite customer service easy.
8. Build relationships with your candidate pool by delivering a stream of value.
9. Integrate your existing business systems into the enterprise.
10. Reduce your client's transaction costs using the Web.
e. If you are not finished with your work, don't show it. Tactics like "Under Construction" signs and links that don't work are symptoms of a deeply unprofessional enterprise. It's very simple to turn links off and on. Your Website developer will be likely to be insensitive to the impact of unprofessional work on your reputation. Double check the design assumptions in this area.
f. Buy a copy of "Managing Information Services" from O'Reilly and Associates ($29.95). Ideally, read it and digest it. If you can't read it, crease the spine of the book and make sure that it's sitting on your desk when you work with your designer.
g. Take as a goal the idea that each screen should contain one idea. Decide which idea you want to have your reader remember from the screen.
h. Design information for your customer. This is not as hard as it sounds. The goal is to find ways to keep the number of mouse-clicks between your customer and the information to bare minimum.
i. Don't be fooled by pretty graphics. A first impression is made in six to ten seconds. If you have a graphic that takes much longer than that, get rid of it. There is a fine line between "Wow" and "Overdone". The operating principle is "Less is More".
j. Repeat the phrase "Less is More". Always evaluate your design by trying to see what you can remove from it without losing the meaning. Remember the sculptor. When asked how he made a sculpture, he said, "I take a block of granite. Then I remove anything that isn't the sculpture."
k. The Website is an Enterprise. Therefore, marketing is a part of your Website design. Consider sponsorships, advertisements and other links to related Websites.
l. Don't buy your web design from someone who uses the "cookie cutter" approach. Although it's more expensive, you need a distinctive look and feel. The very last thing you want is for a reader to confuse you with another site.
m. Having a Website will bring you customers you don't expect. It will bring you workload you hadn't planned on. Overwork is a consequence of success and a symptom of growth. If you don't want more correspondence, more resumes and unexpected customers, don't develop an Electronic Enterprise. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
n. Your graphic design has to be consistent with your audience. You won't attract 22 year old software engineers with a design that looks like a bank. Bankers won't use something in neon and silver that might attract a younger crowd.
o. Reading a computer screen is slow and painful. The ballpark statistic is that a screen can be read at 28% of normal reading speed. That's why most people scan a page, stopping at links and key graphics. Make each link the center of the thought.
p. Scrolling is slow for different reasons. Don't allow long pages or graphics that exceed standard window boundaries. Make sure that each click of the mouse rewards the reader with value.
q. Each graphic must pass a simple test. Precisely what value does it add to the message you want to communicate? Write down the value you think it adds. Explain it to someone who thinks the whole idea is foolish. Throw out anything that doesn't add value for your audience. Less is more.
r. There are no absolutes in this new world. Every rule is broken routinely and effectively. Don't get stuck in your assumptions or look for simple answers.
s. The design you implement today will be old-fashioned between three and six months from now. Get used to it or get out of it. It will settle down after all of the good spaces are taken.
t. Do everything in your power to make your audience want to interact with you. Try to be more subtle than "tell us what you'd like to see" (that's your job). Make it worth the readers time to give you her two cents worth. Clients and candidates are all you have.
u. Have a theme. Tie it together. Throw away anything that you can't directly tie to the theme. Write it down in 25 words or less. Stick to it.
v. Pick the browsers you support based on your business goals, not some consultant's advice.
w. Expect measurable results. Hold yourself (or your staff) accountable to them. Develop plans to recover if you miss your measurable targets.
x. Think Radically. Avoid the temptation to reuse old material. Plan on radical change in your business assumptions. What if you became de facto component of your client? What if employment screening became completely automated and tied to credit histories? What if Recruiters became the most powerful component of workforce management?
y. Act Immediately. As always, speed is of the essence. The Internet is a flat, undifferentiated space and early position determines visibility. Hurry, but make sure your plan is solid and adaptive
z. Treat the Web as a new medium. The temptation to view hypertext as a direct extension of paper is very high. But, the medium is only tangentially related to paper.
Start with the customer. Lots of different kinds of people use the Internet. Who do you want to build relationships with? Want do they want? How can you give it to them? Always start with the customer in mind.
This is an excerpt from the 1997 Electronic Recruiting Index.
It appears in Chapter 8 of the book.
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