Harmonized Indicators WordPress site

The IFI Partnership Harmonized Indicators site was created as a means for publishing these indicators as well as serving as a entry point for partners to collaborate and share information with their stakeholders and between themselves. WPA built the site entirely in WordPress using additional plug-ins to enhance its functionality. See the site at http://indicators.ifipartnership.org

Let’s Work Partnership WordPress site

We are please to announce the launch of the letswork.org site which was built using WordPress.  The site serves as the main information platform for a partnership of leading international development organizations. Read more

Native Apps vs. Mobile-Enabled Web Sites

When is it a good idea to create a mobile version of your Web site instead of a native app? A mobile enabled site resizes the content, modifies the navigation and layout so that it can be best viewed on a mobile device. A native app is downloadable software that provides a service on a specific mobile device. A good mobile strategy provides the right answers, and in many cases you’ll need both.

See the full article at My Mobilewalla (you may have to register)

Tell them about yourself

I’ve just read an interesting article that claimed that users do not care for links pointing to a “About us” type of section. I disagree with that. If you land on a site because you used a search engine, you may not know (hence trust) the source of the information provided on the site. This is especially true for e-commerce sites. Today, anyone can put up a professional-looking site that seems legitimate. One of the first thing I do when I get to a site I do not know, I check out how they describe themselves. Sometimes you will have customer feedback, list of affiliated companies, list of partners, etc. All information that you can use to ensure the site is legitimate. In fact, at my last company, our “About us” section was one of the most visited. So, even though you may not have too many people reading that part of the site (and they should), you should always have a predominately position link to such vital information.

The CEO wants a new site!

That is the scariest thing I hear in my business. Although the CEO may be right, it’s usually a bad sign if the CEO wants to be involved in the site re-design. The site is built for a company’s constituents, and that’s not the CEO. Too often, a CEO will see a competitor’s site, and uses that as a benchmark: “I want to have our site like xyz corporation!”. Unfortunately for the Web project manager (or the person assigned with the ungrateful task of managing a company’s Web presence) this is the kiss of death. Today, everyone is a Web expert, and the CEO always seems to be the most knowledgeable. A Web site is designed to provide information, data, service, etc. to a company’s constituents, all this taking into consideration the company’s brand. A competitor’s Web site, may or may not be the best guide for creating your site. It’s not a bad idea to look at other sites for design and organizational ideas, or to at least get a sense of direction, but this is done as part of a thorough analysis that starts with defining the Web strategy all the way to the publishing guidelines.

Does everything need to be on the home page?

A company’s home is where most Web visitors end-up. It’s normal to want to load the page with as much information as possible, to make sure we don’t miss anything important. However, this could backfire at you. Information overload is unfortunately a problem that plagues too many home pages. The trick is to achieve the right balance of information and white space. Often, Web managers are pressured to add links to too many resources, but they must resist doing that. And the best way to do that is to create a solid information architecture together with areas for news, “what’s new on the site”, highlights or announcements or any combination of these. So, no, not everything goes on the home page. Only content designed to provide visitors with the information they came for.

A good design doesn’t distract the user from getting to the information: It is an enabler

The key word is obviously “enabler”. Too often people focus on the esthetics of a design, and although it is important to have an appealing Web layout, all design elements have to have a purpose: Trigger action from the visitor. For e-commerce sites it could be to add items to a shopping cart; for non-profit sites it could be to entice someone to donate to a cause; for a commercial site it could be to download a white paper or a brochure or even better, initiate a business deal. So, ask yourself this simple question: Does the graphic design encourages users to act? If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board, evaluate your user needs and your own business goals and create a design that enables users to act.

Org chart as navigation for a Web site

DO NOT assume that your internal department org chart is a way to organize the site content. In fact, this is rarely the case. Your site visitors don’t care how you’re organized, and may even find it confusing anyway. Every corporation organizes itself differently and usually reflects the corporate culture. As a Web manager, you will be often coerced into creating content navigation to satisfy department heads, but you must resist. Argue that visitors have goals and objectives when coming to your site (have those handy if they doubt you). By organizing your content along those goals you will improve visitor satisfaction, which will translate in repeat visits, and depending on your business model, increase sales (or donations, or inquiries, etc.).

How to get excited about information architecture

In this business, what gets clients excited is design. Unfortunately, that’s usually one of the least important part of a Web project. The difficulty is to convince the client that the more time and effort spent on strategy and information architecture, the better the Web site. Obviously, good design is important to entice the reader, but without a good navigation system, site visitors will click away from your site frustrated not to be able to the find what they came for.

The curse of the outdated Web site

You have surely encountered Web sites that show “what’s new” items and upcoming events dating from 2 years ago. Or that show a copyright year of 2009. These sites do not generate much confidence. Is the company still in business? Do they still sell the products and services they claim to offer? Hard to tell. Most site visitors faced with such questions will usually click the back button and try a different search. Number one rule of web site management: Keep your content updated, even if that’s the only thing you do.