Bad web design irritates the heck out of me. And by design, I don’t mean ‘prettiness’. Conflating ‘design’ with ‘appearance’ is probably the biggest cause of bad design in the first place.
Hey, guys, we’re going to design a web site!…
- Let’s bring in the artsy web designer guy. Never mind whether he knows anything about our business, or how to market our business, or anything about business in general.
- Let’s have him design a super-duper attractive site. What’s the hot buzzword this week? CSS? Sure, we need lots of CSS. And how about frames? Oh, frames are out? Then give me some Flash.
- Let’s sit back and collect the million$.
The thing that got me going on this theme was a post I read on Seth’s Blog about Empathica. He commented that basically, it’s a nice looking site, but he clicked around for a few minutes and couldn’t be sure what they do. Touche. I took a look, and I have no idea what this company does. Try it out–
- You enter on a landing page. I think they sell coffee? Click through…
- A nice relaxing home page. Absolutely no clue as to what they do. Maybe they are a coffee shop? Or a bookstore? Click through to ‘What is Empathica?’, as this will surely point the way…
- Now there are words, but unfortunately, it’s not english, it’s consultant mumbo jumbo. It’s some kind of system? It’s software? It’s consulting? It’s confusing.
I would generally suggest that the less well known your company, the more you need to grab people as quickly as possible and get your point across. Because most people aren’t going to go 3 clicks deep into your website trying to figure out what you do, no matter how cool your homepage.
The homepage should either explicitly or implicitly make 3 points: 1) Here’s where you are. 2) Here’s what we do. 3) Here’s why you should care enough to click further. The less well known you are (ie. the greater the percentage of visitors who will be hearing of you for the first time), the more explicit you should be.
Let’s take a different case… a little known startup called Dell. Homepage: Bang– computer stuff. No coffee cups, no zen imagery, just right to the point. I suppose if they ever get big enough, they can hire a designer to implement some nice trendy splash pages.
For more on the web design topic, I recommend Web Pages That Suck, where they tear apart a different site every day.
And before anyone points out the obvious, which is that my blog is in its own Bland Template Hell… yes I know. Working on a design, but that takes a while, and I wanted to start spouting off on marketing.