SOME THOUGHTS ON WEB
It's a sad old cliché, but how many of us can program our
videos without looking at the instructions? Probably not many. When
was the last time you used the advanced cookery-pokery widgets on
your microwave? I purchased a microwave with just a manual, clockwork
style timer and power level dial because I don't have time
to fiddle around with nonsensical “advanced features”
when all I want to do is blast a tin of beans. The makers of the
advanced microwaves lost my business. On top of this, in true viral
marketing style, I'm going to tell all my family and friends what
a great microwave I have and not to bother with all those expensive,
overly-fancy models. Simplicity and ease of use gets the gold star.
As a result of not being able to use this kind of functionality
in everyday objects, we're using only a fraction of the “stuff”
that surrounds us. We struggle on with our difficult to use devices
simply because we've paid for them and by the time we've realised
how hard to use they are, we can’t take them back to the shop.
Or simply can't be bothered. After all, these things are supposed
to make our lives easier, not make them more of a hassle.
Are we stupid? Is it our lack of intelligence that prevents us from
taking advantage of these neato technical wonders? Is it our
fault we can't work these devices easily? No. It's the fault
of us dumb designers, that's who's fault it is.
So we're stuck with our unwieldy gadgets and lifestyle items. Not
so with websites. With a website the opportunity to back out, exit
via the side door, or simply transport, Star Trek style,
elsewhere is omnipresent. In a sense commercial websites are very
similar to our consumer gadgets. They provide us with some sort
of utility, be that buying a product, finding more information about
something, entertaining us… All these things are achieved
through our interactions with the site. If the site is as hard to
use as our gadgets, who's going to use it?
Does this mean all sites should be purely functional? Should they
be devoid of attractive, engaging aesthetics? Of course not. A chair,
primarily, needs to be comfortable to sit on, but it can still look
great, function brilliantly and be highly desirable for the
design-savvy consumer. Why should it be any different for websites?