"hey there!!! I'm working on what I *promise* to be the last rendition of our website... would you mind checking it out and letting me know what your thoughts are? Thanks!"
01:46:02 AM - December 8, 2006
This is the instant message I received early this morning. As asked, I checked out the website. I didn't find much of anything wrong with it, but then again, I didn't really have much to look for either. I poked around, checked out a few of the links, took a look at the photo of the week, and marveled (slightly) at the professional looking layout. Beyond that, I was done with the site; check it off the list, a favor done for a friend.
But did I really do any good?
I want to say yes, after all, I did get past the main page. But I got this rather nagging sensation that in fact I didn't particularly do anything that would be helpful. Beyond saying that I liked the color scheme, I didn't really have much of a response or 'thoughts' on the site. This got me onto the idea of usability testing. I hated coming up with usability questions for my website - hated, hated, hated. (And I'm still working on it for my final website, oh the irony.) But I guess I really see the use of them. Without any questions to answer, it isn't exactly easy to come up with much response beyond, 'well, I like it, such-and-such is my favorite aspect.'
I love the irony of effective usability questions though. It seems to me that basically all they are doing is giving the viewers something specific to bite their teeth into and criticize. (Not that the answers aren't helpful, mind you.)
Oh well, sometimes I guess it is just more effective to show your attacker your weak spot - or give out a treasure map for the plunderers to follow.