Websites and Vanity

I started making websites in 1995.  There was a debate about Mosaic vs. Netscape and we knew how to use gopher.  A lot has changed since then and I am not the website deisgner/engineer I once was.  I mean, I think I’m a lot better now, but I haven’t kept up with technology, so my CSS rendering skills aren’t very good and I still can only make things with a lot of straight lines.

That’s vaguely relevant background to let you know that I’ve been doing this a long time so have some experience to the following point.  SMBs frequently let their vanity get ahead of good website design practices.  I suspect business owner vanity vs. marketing best practices will be a theme for this blog.  Let’s get started.

There are a lot of things in web design that were invented to show off or look cool: splash pages, complex flash sites, really large images. There are also lots of things that users do (e.g. open every new link in a new window) that seem like the right thing for themselves.  Business make the mistake of thinking that vanity + their own user preferences make for the best experience.

For example, I think we know that splash pages and flash are not good for SEO.  And we know that opening new pages in new windows all of the time is rude.  As is making people say “OK” before showing them page as if that will somehow really protect copyright.  That said, less savvy users INSIST on their web designers doing this.  As if said web designer is an idiot. Why are business so mistrustful of their providers?  Do they think everyone is out to scam them? Is just that perfectionists and control freaks are the same people who are successful business owners?

I don’t know, but I see such bad SEO (and I am no SEO expert) on SMB sites and such bad user experience and I know it’s for 1 of 2 reasons. 

  1. Their 12-year-old son/daughter/niece/nephew/neighbor made the site. (This was my #1 competition when I was in business.)
  2. They insisted their web designer was wrong and made them do the wrong thing

So what’s the solution? Designers who can better articulate WHY certain rules must be followed.  What does it mean for the business?  What is the tracking value? And why 12-year-olds are unreliable.

Here’s to hoping more SMBs start listening to the advice they pay for.  After all, do you just ignore your lawyer?