Web Services Part 2
2nd edition — by Patrick McNeil — Jan. 29, 2007
The Design Element
Sites which offer web services seem to face some extreme instances of classic design problems. I commented on some of these hurdles previously, but I would like to highlight a few more:
Short attention spans
Web users have incredibly short attention spans. I believe this can be particularly true of web developers in search of tools to solve particular problems. I know that I grow incredibly impatient when I land on a site and can't figure out it's purpose. So designers of such sites need to make it's purpose instantly obvious. Is it to build forms? Times sheets? Polls? Why the heck am I looking at your site.
Sites which offer up a service to their visitors perhaps require an elevated level of professionalism or quality to earn the trust of the visitor. If I built a time sheet application for example. The type of people looking to use it are clearly going to be doing so for business purposes. Perhaps it is geared towards small shops that just need to track billable time. This is the life blood of their company, it can't be an application that looks like it was hacked together by some code monkey sitting in his basement! It has to look like it was built by smart knowledgeable and above all trustworthy people. Why would I trust my valuable data to these jokers? Image is everything and can completely shape the results a product will get. This concept extends itself into other markets as well. Form processing for example. This is a basic part of a site, but if you use a third party to do it, you want to know that it will just work and not disappear some day with all your data.
If a webservices's public sales site is not easily navigated, understood, and used then what is to make me believe their application will be any different? If you have a slick easy to use app, make sure your sales pitch is just as easy and clear.
Just as with any other product branding is of the utmost importance. One can no doubt go to countless versions of the same applications. Making yourself memorable is a good thing. This is where clever concepts that make your site stick in the brain are great.