Cold Spring Design Inc.
15 Griggs Road
Sutton, MA 01590


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You’re Just Throwing Some Words and Pictures on the Screen, Right?

Friday, Oct. 22nd 2010

One of the hardest battles in the web design business is convincing clients that website will have a positive return on their investment. They’re asking the right question — a client who doesn’t care about ROI is unlikely to stay in business for very long. But when they start chopping into the design budget because they don’t think how the site looks will effect how it works — that’s when we have an issue.

We see if all the time, packaged in a variety of messages:

  • “We don’t need to hire a web designer — my daughter just took a web design class.”
  • “Our business is about X so we don’t need to purchase photos .”
  • “This has to be up and running in 3 weeks, so why don’t you handle the design now and we’ll have the content ready in 2 weeks.”

What it comes down to is a lack of understanding of what value a website represents to a company and how that value is built. How do we change that? Well, I’d love to say Cold Spring has a usability testing lab. That’d be beyond cool.

What we do have is a degree in Engineering Psychology (trust me — I did a lot of usability reading and testing to get that one), years of experience, and some pretty solid design sense.

But if you watch that video, especially the bit between :30 and 1:00, you understand what “eyetracking” is. Whether you go to the extent of generating a “heatmap” or simply accept that good design can largely predict user interactions, you understand that the idea of “just throwing some word and pictures on the screen” is dead. It’s going to produce a result so far inferior to that of a well designed website that you may as well just have your daughter design your site. Or my 2-year-old. Same result.

Does this prove ROI? Nope. But it’s a step in the right direction. Accepting that proper planning, content and asset generation, good design and building a website well will result in a better experience for your visitors is the right idea. After that it’s just a matter of budget, timing, and keeping my 2-year-old out of the office.

Posted by Jeff Lerman | in ROI, Usability Testing, Web Design | Comments Off on You’re Just Throwing Some Words and Pictures on the Screen, Right?
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