"Octane is a web design, development and internet marketing consultancy started in June 1999."
My name's Wayne Smallman and I sell ideas that change the way companies do business, usually in the form of novel web applications.
I'm also a writer for business publications (both web and print), as well as a consultant, adviser and trusted ally to my clients.
Sometimes, thinking can be a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, I like thinking, but there’s the right kind and the wrong kind when it comes to business — and especially web design.
Yesterday, I went to the cinema with my girlfriend. Afterwards, just before the drive home, I needed the little boys room. As we both went down the corridor to our respective rooms, I stopped next to the sign marked with a little blue guy. I paused, looked at the sign on the wall, but couldn’t figure out which door the sign related two, since there were two.
Why not just put the sign on the door like everyone else? For a split second, I felt indecisive, which really is not Wayne Smallman at all! Trust me on that one.
And then I was reminded of a book I bought a while back called “Don’t Make Me Think!” by Steve Krug, which is a common-sense approach to web usability. And a lot of the advice really is just that — common sense.
The overarching theme is to not make people think when they’re using your website. It’s a wise policy, too. There are a number of constants to designing a website which, as a web designer, it’s as well to stick to.
Examples abound, such as the use of images within a web page. More often than not, the default action of the visitor is to click on the image. Not meeting people’s expectations can leave them feeling frustrated and confused. It’s at that moment that their thoughts turn to your competitors website.
I’m also reminded of a quote from the excellent action crime thriller Ronin. In this particular scene, Sam (played by Robert De Niro) says something like: “If there’s any doubt, there is no doubt.” And he’s absolutely right.
Once there are doubts, those doubts dissolve what initial trust there might have been between your visitor and your website. After all, building trust is amazing hard with a website, especially for small businesses with a small brand.
As is often the case, clients rarely have a full appreciation of the amount of time involved in what you do. When these expectations get too high, I invite a client to the office for the day to go through a set of changes and / or amends. At the end of the day, they’re usually a little tired and a good deal more educated about what I have to do when they want that blue widget to be red.
Similarly, I get to see more of their decision making process, which gives me the mental tools I need to ask the right questions and when to ask them.
All good, yes? Not always.
The great thing about clients is they often have a very clear idea of what they want. They don’t know what’s involved in making their ideas happen, nor do they care, unless it’s likely to cost a lot of money!
But if they’ve asked for similar in the past, and sat through an entire day with you while you do the work, this knowledge of how I do things can sometimes stymie the naked ideas behind their less naked ambitions.
And the moral of this story? Think before you make others think, or you might just be the last thing on their mind…