Simple Is Better

If you’re reading this and your company has a Web presence meant to support its business, then bring this topic up with those responsible. Getting better means getting simpler.

That the Internet gives everyone a voice is both good and bad.

With this power often comes the assumption that because we can do it, we should. Web sites developed to serve manufacturers and shops sometimes do deploy valuable information that supports their businesses. More often than not, though, sites are “over-produced” with graphics, animation, technology-opposed photos and text, or other elements that are more hindering than helpful to technology-minded, research-guided, no-nonsense machining or purchasing professionals.

Through a combination of multimedia “shock and awe” and/or poor categorization, builders, shops, suppliers, publishers and distributors all contribute to an online manufacturing network that not only appears at times amateurish by substituting style for substance, but also often acts as a roadblock to the very information it is trying to provide in the first place.

For some perspective on this topic, look no further than www.useit.com. This is a site that we’ve referenced before. Recently, though, the site’s host, Jakob Nielsen, performed a usability study that presents us with a practical solution to this specific problem: SIMPLIFY.

According to his premise (titled “Low-End Media for User Empowerment”), “fancy media” on sites fail user testing. Further, Mr. Nielsen and his crew found that simple text and clear photos not only enhance a visitor’s feeling of control, but they also strengthen the Web’s primary role for manufacturers as “an instant gratification device.”

You can find the results of this study at www.useit.com/alertbox/20030421.html. Other studies there can be quite useful for keeping manufacturing Web sites—including yours—on track.

If you’re reading this and your company has a Web presence meant to support its business, then bring this topic up with those responsible.

Getting better means getting simpler.