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Beussery Imagery

steps on its own toes

In the original review request of Beussery Imagery Co. , the author commented: A cool web site for those who need one! Lots of info, some nice new tricks and even a little i candy. so sit back and enjoy!
Reviewed by: Bennie C. Taylor
Your site shows some diversity from the run of the mill sort. But don't forget that your potential customers may lack your spirit of adventure and prefer a more conventional web site format.
Designing for audience
Here are a few items which might drive away those who prefer a more conservative layout.
  1. The site opens with an apparent splash page offering a link to "skip intro." There does not seem to be an intro. Actually, I do not want to see an intro, and I expect there are many others who would rather go straight to the meat of the site.
  2. I do not want to "press the b key" to enter. I never use keys. I have a sandwich in my left hand. It is usually better not to create extra work for the the viewer or to depart from the standard actions which most surfers expect and understand.
  3. The navigation buttons do not immediately suggest their meaning -- where do I go next?
  4. The animation is annoying. What is a "process?" Will potential customers understand this? It is better to stick with easily recognized and familiar navigation images or else just use text links.
  5. The window opening from the left is too slow and seems an unnecessary complication. Some of the examples are slow to display - in fact, I never did see some of them although I waited much longer than the average visitor would.
  6. Don't ask people to download something in order to see your material. They usually will not do it. And anyone who does not already have Quick Time Player probably does not want it. Does anyone really want to wait to see this item?
Innovation overkill
There really is too much gimmickry at the onset of this site. To make matters worse, some of the terminology is probably not recognizable by someone who may be looking for a web site designer.
      Innovation is good, but when you are dealing with the uninitiated it is probably better to stick with the basics. I enjoyed looking at your samples, but the time and effort involved getting to them almost guarantee that I will not return.
Editor Notes:
Bennie, you are so right.
Designers need to always keep an eye out for possible barriers to readership, and stumbling blocks in use of the site that will hinder its success. Yes -- by all means make it a technological masterpiece. But don't maroon your reader in unfamiliar territory upon arrival.
Here's an experiment:
Proofing the Visual Arrival Window
Set up a situation where you can 'surf' to your site on someone else's computer -- preferably one who has never been to the site. Have them link to the site, not revealing that you want them to provide you with user feedback. Carefully watch what happens in the first few moments of arrival. This is what we call the "Visual Window of Approach." These first few moments will instantly establish the visitor's overall acceptance and feelings about the activity. This actually works in all media evaluation, not just web sites.
      Remember what took place. Perhaps try the same experiment with a "demographically correct" person. Ask did they react differently?
Now, if they didn't react the way you want them to, you've got to fix it. If there was a problem in the immediate reaction, you've got to change that arrival to eliminate that problem.
      So, take a few moments and write down exactly what it is you want your visitor -- any visitor -- to see, do and feel during those first few moments of arrival. Then, do what ever you must to make sure those reactions are accomplished.
It is very easy to become so enthusiastic about your topic, or capabilities, that you forget that the reader or listener may not have the ability to understand what you're showing or writing about. As a designer, or visual communicator your first obligation is to the speedy and thorough delivery of the message to the intended reader.
      Yes, let's show them the sizzle. But first, let's make sure they can get to the sizzle in the fullest of its meaning -- and that they'll actually understand it as you intended them to. You can't just expose them to the material -- you have to help bring them to the point of understanding.
      I love it when a site gives me a clear understanding of what is offered, how to access it, and what I can anticipate as the results. When it says "here's a cool movie I've created" I might just take a look. But if I arrive and the progress bar says "Loading 256K .swf file" I usually click away.
      If, on other hand you are providing an "experience" or an "environment" for your visitor -- and you really don't care if they stay, then that's okay too. You are intentionally limiting your audience to a select few.
      But if you would like to have some result from the person's visit -- or would like to instill some reaction from them, then give them choices, make the choices very clear, and guide them into the discovery process. I think you'll have better readership and happier visitors.
Posted: 10/29/2003

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