A post from Scoble got Darren thinking:
I wouldn’t quite put it in the words that Robert does. I’m not so sure that we should aspire to ‘ugly’ blogs – but rather would call many of the blogs that I’m talking about that work well ’simple’ or ‘humble’.
Back when I used to help with elearning roll-outs for a large global insurance company we spent a lot of time doing user testing – though we were the ones testing – not novice users. Unclear interface and expectations can wreck a web-based course – and a web-based anything. I came down to my two rules of web design usability – the second half inspired from David Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think:
People are either stupid or in a hurry.
If I try to keep in mind that people are either stupid (i.e. ignorant, not web-savvy, not down with blogs, not knowing how to use a browser, not knowing the basic fundamental principles that guide all online technology – none of these which is ‘all their fault’) or in a hurry (not wanting to wait, scan, search) I can usually trim down my templates and design to be much more manageable. Krug reminds us that users usually ‘muddle through’ a website. They click whatever seems most important and hope for the best. That is one reason why I think so many people have too much crap on their blog columns – there should be an obvious next step. I do that with this blog with the big-ass orange screaming ‘What’s a blog?’ subscription box.
Currently in our Blog Your Way to a Bestseller course (which I’m seeing a lot of people starting to replicate… hmmm…) Suzanne and I harp on being obvious. People have no time for your cleverness. One of Jakob’s primary laws is: Users spend most of their time on other websites. Meaning: There’s a reason why we have web conventions. Every time I see a movie website or a band’s website break all conventions and usability in order to impress I gently sigh because I bet their audience can’t figure out how to get the goods. Especially if the audience for the product isn’t high school kids with too much free time.