Evolution of the Web has 6 stages:
1. The Simple Sharing Era
2. The Image & Table Era
3. The Design Intro Era
4. The Techno-Type Era
5. The Usability Era
6. Speaking Web
The Simple Sharing Era: The World Wide Web was born at the CERN research facility Switzerland. As envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee. The Web was used to transfer information between people in an easy-to-acces format.
The Image & Table Era: As traffic on the web began to grow, so did the demand for the ability to share more than just text. Mosaic, the first graphical web browser, was developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in 1993, and with it came the ability to view and include images as parts of the Web.
1994 – The first commercial web browser, Netscape Navigator, released and distributed.
The Design Intro Era: Focusing on graphical design, no attention was paid to the navigation, behavior and structure of web sites. Websites in this era were characterized by an oversaturation of images and poor functionality.
The Techno-Type Era: Overuse of technology – videos, applications, flash animations – resulted in a long time to download. The sites were exciting and cool, but did little else for their audience.
The Usability Era: Web sites began focusing on clarity, efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Speaking Web: Web designers need to consider how their sites are structures (organization), how they look (presentation) and how they respond to users (interaction).
When a visitor comes to your website, they have only the presentation to tell them what you have to offer, and how they can make use of it. The presentation has a lot of responsabilities.
KNOW WHAT TO SAY
Think through the main message that you need to communicate and how best to articulate it. We need to be certain we are aware of who is saying what to whom.
In order for a web site to be “usable“, it must be understandable. It needs to communicate, and communicate effectively. The intended message of a web site needs to match the interpreted message of the user.
GETTING TO KNOW YOUR CLIENT
Prior to designing a web presence for your clients, you need to really understand your clients, what they do, what they want, and how they expect to get it done.
Do not be afraid to ask lots of questions. Only by having a clear idea of your clients’ goals can you speak for them. The most important answer to “Who is your client?” is understanding what your client does, for whom, and why.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR CLIENTS’ GOALS
You need to define the problem. Instead of saying, “we need a form with five input fields and two drop-down menus…”, it is better to understand your clients’ need as “We need the ability for interested parties to send us their contact information, so we can…”
Some clients will claim that everyone is a member of their target audience, and they wish to reach all of them with their web site. However, when a customer is using a web site, they become a particular type of person.
WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR
Perhaps the most important question regarding your audience is “What is their purpose for coming to your web site?” Consider what they want to achieve and how their needs can be met. Visitors come to web sites with questions and expectations.
HOW THEY COMMUNICATE
How does your audience communicate? Perhaps your audience uses a certain lingo to communicate ideas between one another.
Knowing how your audience communicates, however, goes beyond the meanings associated with words. For example, what connotations do colors have? In the financial world, red is associated with negative trends, and investors instinctually interpret red text as bad news.
USING PROFILES AND SCENARIOS
A commonly used technique used to better comprehend an audience is the use of scenarios. A scenario is a sketch of why a typical audience member may use the site. It usually includes information such as the visitor’s goal, the best way to realize that goal, and an ideal outcome for the site visit.
The majority of web users come to the web for one thing: content. A good way to make sure that you meet your audience’s needs is to provide the content that they seek. When you’ve determined who your audience is, let them determine what the content of the web site should be. Even though Joe is paying the bill, you’re not really designing a web site for Joe. You are designing for Joe’s audience.
Content included in a website should meet the needs and expectations of your audience. If your audience does not need the content you are putting online, why is it there?
WRITING IT ALL DOWN
Develop a short mission statement.
A mission statement should outline what the site needs to do and whom it needs to reach. In other words, the mission statement will detail the intended meaning of your message.
Throughout the web design process, it’s a good idea to refer back to your mission statement to make sure that the work you’re doing fulfills the goals of your client, and more importantly, meets the needs of your client’s audience.