Our Web Approach

"How often do you land on a site, do very little, gain very little, and leave? The practice is quite common. The very nature of the web reinforces such behavior. Most web users are extremely impatient."

While gazing at our monitors, our fingers rest on the trigger. In the blink of an eye and the click of the mouse, we're gone. Watch me read a book or magazine, and then watch me on the Web. It's hard to believe that I'm the same person. On the Web, I'm in control…."

   -- Laura Wonnacott,
      "Site Savvy," Info World, July 3, 2000
We take a managerial approach to web design and maintenance tasks. 

With a strong background in managing diverse disciplines and in communicating organizational information to defined audiences, we place heavy emphasis on up-front strategy, audience definition, and quality content development.

Web authors too often create sites based on the technological skills they just learned rather than the desired impact on the site's audience. Armed with the mouse and a ready clicking finger, web viewers don't have to suffer slow-loading, amateurish or irrelevant web pages. There are lots of better places to click off to.

Jim at Henry Ford Museum.The Web has become commonplace, and web "experts" abound. But the protocols for paper documents took hundreds of years to develop, and rules for effective web design and management are still evolving. Many web sites today are poorly designed, not well targeted, and not very successful -- in part because of fixation on technical tricks, in part because of ignorance of how people really surf the web.

There are different reasons for creating a web site -- information, education, advocacy, marketing, sales, self expression. What's yours? The answer will affect how it's built and who should do it.

Rabit in Hat.
This is not how good web sites are made!
Web sites are too important to be separated from the broad management of the organization. They aren't just technical productions. That's where our background comes into play. We know how to listen, interpret, plan, balance competing organizational needs, and implement. With sound writing skills, we emphasize thoughtful organizational communication, and that's what web sites are all about -- effective communication.

We draw on web skills that are largely self-taught, and tackle the chores required. We always ask how design methods relate to the organization's objectives, rather than being driven by technical glitz. We are especially interested in the emerging specialties of information architecture and usability planning. (What's this? Read the works of web usability guru Jakob Nielsen or see his web site at www.useit.com ). A web manager must understand the habits of web surfers.

We advocate key characteristics for web sites:

  Audience orientation -- build it for them, not to please yourself, and it will serve you well.

  Don't make your web visitor think! They are seeking information and form quick impressions.*

  Accuracy and relevance of content.

  Timeliness.

  Overall coherence of look and content.

  Ease of navigation.

  Reflective of web viewer habits and usability patterns.

  Meaningful involvement of content contributors.

  Top management support.

* Don't Make Me Think, A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability. Second Edition. Steve Krug, New Riders Publishing, 2006. For additional resources about how web surfing really works and how to design for it, see our Design Standards.

What we do    How we do it   Our approach    Sample sites