This morning, my wife asked me in frustration about some hard-to-find information on a local website – the Williamson County (TN) Library.
This rang a bell for me – I seemed to recall that I had a similar problem at that site a week or so back. Here’s a picture of part (above-the-fold) of the home page. What DON’T you see?
That’s right – the library open hours. Over the years, when I have gone on my public library’s website, it has ALMOST ALWAYS been to check out one piece of information – today’s/this week’s hours.
So, where was it hiding? Way, way down there ——->
Placed, and formatted, in such a way as to be maximally unfindable (is that a good use of English? Mom?)
Making matters worse, the website design is exhaustingly busy. Too many choices, colors, and formats, all crowded together. You can’t treat every piece of information equally or you will lose your readers.
Now, this website has a ton of information, but in designing it, someone did not ask the very important questions: What are the 2-3 most common bits of information a user is going to be looking for? And how can we make those most prominent?
Ironically, this was the week my blog was up for design review by the members of Dave Delaney’s Facebook NBN Club (private – but you may want to join!). And sure enough, some fresh, outside pairs of eyes pointed out a few potential design deficiencies that led to confusion. Of course – it was all clear to me! -but, as I’ve said so many times to others, “you can’t read the label of the jar you’re in.”
I’ve seen lots of companies market their capabilities in a list, as if each was equal in weight to the others. It’s not true. Our various capabilities and offerings have differing weights, and our audience will have greater and lesser priorities. By identifying our key “hours open” messages and putting them front-and-center, we stand a much better chance of communicating effectively, and having potential customers check us out.
Also on the blog: Pigeonhole Me. Please.
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