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December 17, 2003

I’ve been caught in a little dilemma at work. Each time I start to plan changes, my whole thought process changes. Just the past 6 months alone, change what my initial plan should have been. We can plan for a year, but in reality it’s coming down to an almost quarterly reevaluation who what a website needs to be. I’ve never been so unsure of myself.

Sure, you can pop some content online with some PR-speak, but how do you get the people to come to you? Our hits are hundreds of percent better, since the new site launched. But how to you pop past that level and help your consumers? What do they need? Focus groups are a good idea, but what’s your range? My thoughts on this are…..setup your site to target specific customers and needs of your visitors. A general website is targeted towards everyone. But if you can separate them, then you can target more pertinent information to those visitors. We’re talking everything from news to banners to articles.

I think we’re at a point beyond having a “web team”. We’re moving beyond technology…to a point. We’re now at a point where the sites have to evolve from a glowing cube of techno-babble, to being something useful for everyone. Most people could care less about XML & RSS feeds, and most wouldn’t know what to do with ’em. That’s not a fault of those people, it’s our fault. We should make our technology transparent…it’s why Apple’s Macintosh succeeded and where Windows has finally evolved. And it’s a constant fight to change the web into an opaque mass of knowledge, instead of shiny black programs and colored wires.

Let’s get real. We’re wanting to give Joe & Jane Everybody information they need. They run a modest computer and only use Microsoft Outlook Express and Internet Explorer 6.0, out of the dozens of programs that came pre-installed. They don’t care or even want to know about MSN Messenger (or Yahoo!). The thought of installing anything else, scares the living crap outta them. They shouldn’t have to worry about Javascript and Flash, they just want to see the weather forecast, see what movies are at the Bijou, or learn about Type II Diabetes. Preaching about web standards to them, is useless and isn’t what they need to know.

*We* have to design and program to our audience but in a transparent way, that provides the best experience for them. Yes that’s including web standards & accessibility. But we have to move beyond the technical gobbildy-gook and actually get the knowledge to the audience, tethered only by their will and not by a technical dependance we’ve thrown in.