Joe the Web User

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Krug, ch. 7

As a web user, I never truly realized the unique aspects that the homepage of a site had versus its interior pages.  I kind of stumbled upon this idea as I was feeling my way through HTML coding earlier in the semester, but this chapter fully enlightened me on the concept.

"...the Home page is the waterfront property of the Web: It's the most desirable real estate, and there's very limited supply.  Everybody who has a stake in the site wants a promo or a link to their section...and the turf battles for Home page visibility can be fierce." (97)

Krug makes this sound comparison to explain just why the Home page is so unique.  It, after all, has to try to appease every department in a company and every visitor to the site.  As a result, the true purpose of the home page - to express the site's main point (with telling visitors what the site has, what it can do, and why it’s better than other sites coming in as close seconds) gets lost in the shuffle.

To me, a Home page with all content and no focus is like the old saying: You can't see the forest for the trees.

ch 8.

While chapter 8 explained the typical web design conflict and the reasons behind it, I got the most out of one of the final sections in the chapter, titled "The myth of the Average User." 

On page 128, Krug says "...all Web users are unique, and all Web use is basically idiosyncratic."  This quote stems from the belief that web users (which all web designers are) believe all other web users are like them.  An individual web user may like a certain layout, feature, design, etc., but then usually also believes that all other web users like these specific elements as well.  And from there, designers deduce that whatever the most people like is the "best" or "right" decision for a site’s design. 

So I can't help but think, web designers are looking for Joe the Web User aren't they?!

But, Krug's point is to the contrary.  There is no Joe! (well Joe the Web User, anyway) But if there isn’t any typicality between users, if there isn’t an "average" user, then the whole design approach gets blown out of the water.  Krug is therefore telling designers to start from square one when making design decisions.  They should look at the details of their site, their situation, and their site's purpose.  They should evaluate from that perspective, not from the perspective of the great and almighty average user.  This, then, provides the perfect background for the development and implementation of usability tests.

Isn't it great when everything fits together?

 

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2 Comments

Aja Hannah said:

I was going to use Joe (the plumber/user) for my comparison too, but then decided against it. I'm so glad someone else saw this similarity also.

Daniella Choynowski said:

If I hear Joe the Plumer one more time this week....he'll be making an appearance in the latest Setonian cartoon.

I'd like to think of the homepage as the front lobby of a series of executive offices. There are sings everywhere telling you which office is which way. All need to be clear and attention getting, otherwise you will get lost.

The great thing about usability testing is that you will probably never get the same response from two people.

It is important that designers work their hardest on the sight before usability testing. Tweaking will be much easier than getting a huge list of complaints.

Too many problems, too much feedback.

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