Everyone can get some readership on the web. But if your analytics show less traffic than you hoped for, it could be that you’re not giving your audiences what they need.
Success = Information + Delivery
The web is like a supermarket for information. People have come to expect that there are 50 sources for any piece of information, and they shop for the one that presents it in the most optimal way (note: by optimal, I don’t mean flashiest).
Even when this isn’t true—for example, when you are the only source for a bit of info—your audience has been trained to expect that optimal presentation. Offer much less and they’ll often simply leave your page, considering it a lost cause. They’ll call a phone number, ask a friend, anything else. Your web page has failed.
This is the hard truth of the web, a truth borne out by years of research. But research has also been working to find the ways people want to receive their info, and you can master these techniques. You can be that optimal source.
My goal is to help us create, through the elements within our control, the best information experience for our website visitors. To this end, I base the tips on this site on a combination of three criteria:
- Usability research and recommendations provided by leaders in the field of web User Experience
- Accumulated learning from my professional and freelance experience—17 years running several hundred websites, from product and service sales to support to editorial to portfolio to gateway environments
- Accessibility best practices based on the WCAG 2.0 level AA standard
Still I know that anyone can fall prey to bias and that user preferences and habits can change. And I’m always interested in new research. So if you have different experience or know of new work, add to the discussion in the comments.
I believe in:
- The methods and principles of User Experience (UX) – UX is essentially the scientific method of the web and it's never failed me yet
- Service – we're here to serve both our business customers and the visitors to our websites
- Collaboration, especially through dialectic – it's often the best way to determine the approach most likely to succeed
- Continuous improvement – we can and should always look to make things better
- Excellence – never settling for "good enough"
- Listening – our value as practitioners is not in some magical power to divine the correct structure, design or labeling, but rather in our willingness to "understand" (as Richard Saul Wurman uses the term)
My name is John Cady. Working with a great team, I've been creating and managing websites fulltime since 1996, living with those sites, hearing the complaints, seeing the problems that arise from design and content decisions, and slowly finding solutions. There are no absolutes, but I've learned the hard way some things that seem to work better than others.
I've been a usability convert since 1997, when I joined the UPA (now UXPA), and have passionately followed research, evolved methods, carried out user-testing, presented findings and learned a ton from a million people. I now specialize in information architecture, though like the rest of my team, I still do all the rest too.
But at heart I'm a communicator. I came from the world of bookstores and libraries and desktop publishing and freelance writing and editing. And I still see the web primarily as a publishing medium.
The trick for us is how to communicate our ideas and knowledge in this still new medium, with its visitors' very different info acquisition and consumption patterns.
That's what continues to interest me about the web, and what I hope to explore in this space.