Tripping down memory lane…


Somethings really don’t change. I pulled up the homepage for the web design company I ran from 1997-2001 on the “Internet Way Back Machine“. I was one of the very few web designers in Montana from 1997-2001 (when I relocated to California)
Anyway, back in the day I was a cheeky young college student (and then College instructor) with visions of the Internet infiltrating our lives. In between mochas at the local coffee shop and “Foundations of Logic” I wrote up this article in an attempt to attract web design contracts.

Written January 1999:

What are the three things that will either make or break your internet site?


Of the three, Content is king. Content is the new buzzword for stuff-that-you-put-on-your-site. A recent survey(GVU’s 7th WWW User Survey) found that 86.03% of the users surveyed use the Web to “gather information”. If you don’t have the information or if the information is out-dated no one will visit you twice.


With all of this wonderful content there must be some kind of organization. A clear, easy to follow, navigation is a blessing. Visitors are frustrated when they get to a site that should have the information they are looking for but they can’t find it. If a visitor arrives on an internal page of your site you can encourage them to view it from the top by making the front page easily accessible.


This is the “make-it-pretty” part. It also encompasses the “make-it-fast” part. Eighty-six percent(GVU) of the people visiting your web site are there for the information, not for the pretty pictures. If your graphics and other adornments slow your site down to a crawl your visitors will become frustrated, leave and not come back. If, on the other hand, your graphics are speedy and compliment your subject matter your visitors will thank you.

Here it is, 7 years later and this is still true.
Content -is- king. A stale website is only usable once. Repeat visitors come with often updated and relevant content.
Navigability is still important.. but funneling your users though your front door is so 2001. Because of search engines you have to expect your users to arrive anywhere on your site. With the advent of RSS feeds and readers you have to expect that some of your readers aren’t even visiting your site. When they do come to your site you better tell them who you are and why they should be there. If you read somewhere “Karakaota is SO cool.. it’s totally revolutionized they way I work day-to-day” and you go to and spend 15 minutes trying to figure out what it is and why you need it… chances are pretty good that Karakaota is losing at least one customer for every one they keep.
Aesthetics seem to be coming full circle. We’ve been through the “animate everything” phase and the “stop them with a big animated graphic on the front door” phase and finally circled back to simplicity. With a choice between a fully graphic site and a simple site… I’ll choose the simple site. Simplicity is the call words of today. Even though we have broadband and T1 lines running 24/7 a speedy site is still a blessing. Make it pretty.. if you can.. but -always- make it fast.


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