Simple Design does not mean simple execution

Every
web­site should try to serve a clear set of pur­pos­es. Even a personal
blog has a tar­get audi­ence, one’s friends or fam­i­ly per­haps. While a
good site looks sim­ple, it is often very com­pli­cat­ed “under the hood.”

Google
went from being a grad school project to the world’s most important
search engine by ditch­ing the design clut­ter of its com­peti­tors for a
very clean home­page with max­i­mum white space. This effect focused one’s
atten­tion on the search func­tion. More PhD’s are said to work at Google
than at any oth­er com­pa­ny in the world, yet the com­pli­cat­ed engineering
and the tremen­dous com­put­er infra­struc­ture that brings that logo and
search box to your com­put­er is invis­i­ble to the aver­age user.

Even web­sites with­out PhD design­ers need to mar­ry a sim­ple outward
appear­ance with a more com­pli­cat­ed set of cal­cu­la­tions around intended
audi­ences. The aver­age vis­i­tor looks at one or two pages on a site and
then hits the back but­ton. Often they’ll be fol­low­ing a search link and
look­ing at a page buried deep in your site. They’ll be there seeking
out spe­cif­ic infor­ma­tion and you only have about twen­ty sec­onds to
pitch your site and keep them there. You need to give them a very
con­cise descrip­tion of your­self or prod­uct and you need to entice them
with relat­ed material.

Any site that con­sists of more than three pages presents visitors
with more infor­ma­tion than they can han­dle. Good design works to funnel
vis­i­tors to the spe­cif­ic con­tent they are look­ing for. It’s relatively
easy to get a first-time vis­i­tor but suc­cess­ful web­sites keep them on
your site and give them rea­sons to return. The key to this is defining
your audi­ence and pre­sent­ing your mate­r­i­al with them in mind.

Once you’ve iden­ti­fied your con­stituen­cy and built your design, the
next step is release. You don’t want to pan­der to a poten­tial audience,
but instead con­verse with them. It’s fine to mix dif­fer­ent ele­ments of
your life togeth­er and to write cre­ative­ly off-topic once in awhile.
There are a thou­sand gener­ic web­sites crammed full of use­less bu
zzphras­es and unused fea­tured. What you want is one that will have a
voice, that builds a niche that no one else might ever have identified.
When it comes time to pro­duce con­tent, for­get all the slick marketing
cal­cu­la­tions you’ve done and let your quirk­i­ness shine.

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