I love and hate the content on this speaker deck, shared by keynote speaker for #hewebFL College Web Editor conference Daniel Ryan. They shine a floodlight on the goals I had for our new College of Education website when we were in the design phase and remind me that despite an amazingly talented design and almost adequate e resources, some of the most important have yet to be achieved.
These two tips which are based on the sad but true fact that YOU are not your user jumped out at me:
“Segment your site structure by either the top-level personas in your audience or by top-level actions that you want people to take. Check! We made that a priority and tried to draw attention to the top-level personas by limiting them to three (Undergrad, Grad, Professional Development) and featuring them on the top level menu of the site, all bright, bold and shiney. The idea is that you know who you are when you come to our site and self-select the persona that identifies you. So, we got that right, right?
Yes and no. It is the next tidbit of advice that ties my stomach in a bit of a knot. He shows a busy LeeUniversity redesign which looks better than the page my persona person lands on when he or she self-selects “Undergrad>Become a Teacher” for example. His screen shot decries “118 Links!” on the busy, confusing, what the hell should I do next page that I presume a user lands on after making a selection of some sort on the home page. I just counted 33 links on my Become a Teacher page. Tip Two: “The more actions you give users to choose from, the less likely they are to do any of them.” I know that, so how did my Become a Teacher page become a cacophony of links, images, drop down menus and confusing information?
Actually, I know how it happened; we were near the end of the project, we were all tired of working together and tired of not being understood and appreciated and we threw something together that was nothing like what the page was intended for and everyone said, “fine.” The real question is, what am I going to do about it now?
Ryan goes on to outline changes made in 2012 to the BarackObama.com navigation for which he was the front-end developer. His accomplishments there include participating in the first responsive campaign website in political history and raising over $690M online; $125M he attributes directly to optimization and testing.
His rules for web design seem to work – but are not easily implemented in an institution. Putting the needs of viewers above the needs of the organization? Wait a minute, let me catch my breath, I can’t stop laughing. He’s right of course, but the institution has ALWAYS had a meaningless top level link called Academics. You can find it on my site right after “About the College” and just before “Giving & Alumni.” I want to deploy every suggestion he makes, but for now, I will settle for a redesign of my Undergraduate persona page (which technically doesn’t exist or I would be able to link to it here).