16 June 2006

What makes a website effective?

I've been involved in an email correspondence with someone who approaches websites from a design perspective - things that don't naturally fit with their views of good design need to be 'revised'. I'm all for good design, but there are some hugely effective sites out there which break all kinds of design rules - mainly because they were built by people who weren't design-literate.

Design is simply one aspect of building a site that works - one of the sites that I have used as an example this week is confused, difficult to navigate but hugely effective in sales terms. Even the site's owner calls it 'ugly'. There is a phrase in sports about winning ugly. Some sites win ugly, too. If a site is selling well - with a high conversion of visitors to buyers and a good ratio between initial purchase and lifetime value - don't worry too much about the finer aspects of design.

Part of this is down to the punters themselves. They haven't necessarily been trained to appreciate 'good design', they know what they are looking for, and find it hugely reassuring when they find it. Very often they are more interested in the product or the service than they are in the design of the site that allows them to make the purchase.


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