As a few others on the list mentioned, I'd push for defining your
most typical user's task flows and giving prominence to the "entrance
points" of those... For this type of site [non-portal] users need
contextual, prioritized (theirs and yours) task-based starting points, not a
shotgun blast of all possible links... You should be able to define the "top
5-10-ish" tasks that users may want to perform and feature those as
heiarchical starting points... I'm very familiar with a site (no names
please 8-) that has a significant amount of negative user input about the
"quantitiy" of links and information on many pages... users want context
given in pertinent, bite-sized chunks...
From: Fitzpatrick, Sean [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 1999 10:05 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: New Style Websites--Text and tables?
Sort of new to the list, but I'm the Sr. UI Designer for a web-based
eCommerce start-up outside of Washington DC. Our product is an Order
Management system that allows companies to sell products over the web,
in a business-to-business setting. Basically, end users can search
online catalogs, place purchase orders, track p.o.'s, and check on
inventory availability, among other things.
Recently, I have been receiving pressure from out CTO (Chief Tech.
Officer) to update the "Welcome" page, which is the first page that a
user sees after logging in. He is convinced that the "way of the
future" is to cram the welcome page with every possible piece of
information and every function available in a HTML table and link
format, such as sites like http://www.excite.com ,
http://www.theglobe.com , http://www.zdnet.com/ , and many, many other
portal, info laden sites.
The intention is a good one--to reduce graphics and to allow the user
to see (do they really?) a lot of info at once, I suppose by scanning.
The problem for me is three-fold. First, I do not like the way these
sites look and are organized. Second, to me, they are terribly hard to
find what I am looking for (no or minimal whitespace.) Third, and most
important, I am NOT designing a consumer, info intense web-site. I am
designing a business-oriented web APPLICATION. Also, I am having great
difficulty finding usability research, though I suspect there will be
quite a bit more in the very near future...
Finally, my question. What is the list's opinion of these new style
websites? Do you find them usable? Are you annoyed with them like me?
It is tough to generalized, but if you look around you will see this
type of site-design popping up everywhere.
Thanks for the input.
Sr. UI Designer
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