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.”
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.