Monday, April 12, 2010

Well-Organized Sites and Portals

Track B, Web Presence & Experience

Chris Jasek (Elsevier), Emily Shem-Tov (Adobe)

What does well organized mean?
  • Page layout, visual design, perception
  • User's mental model, user's tasks, intuition
"People don't come to a website to admire it, they come to get things done."

Well organized from whose perspective?
  • Understand user needs and tasks, and base your website around them
  • Users want multiple ways to look for information
  • They want detail on demand
  • Want help recovering from wrong paths and suggestions for correct ones
  • Want terminology they understand
  • Want Speed!
Look at other sites, but don't blindly imitate, ask your users and trust what they tell you.

Follow best practice design:
  • Use page real estate wisely - key tasks get the most/prime space, minimize junk
  • Minimize the number of clicks
  • Use consistent navigation
  • Treat links according to conventions
  • Use consistent design elements
  • Use few colors and minimal graphics
  • Provide a help link on every page
  • Make your site accessible
Test your design with users - feedback, usability studies, usage tracking. But what people say and what they do are not always the same, so at least some testing should be observational.

Address issues and repeat - identify problems (not solutions) then identify a pool of possible solutions.

Case Study: Goldmine Research
Internal research portal

People wanted a taxonomy they could use for browsing, have a taxonomy that is specific to Adobe's work, it's revised quarterly! We took six months to do a single review of ours, I can't imagine updating it quarterly.

Most of the rest of this case study presentation was just an overview of what the library's doing, nothing at all about how to organize a website or portal.

My thoughts: this session was pretty basic web design and planning, nothing that seemed particularly about organizing a web site or portal. Both presenters come from corporate backgrounds, and I always wonder if that skews perspective.

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