Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Web Site That Is Static Will Remain in the Attic

I'd think that every person who has travelled on the London Underground knows that the Maps are only a convenient representation of the lines and stations and bares small or no resemblance towards the geography that truly exists.
Mile End to Stepney Green is but a stones throw down the busy Mile End Road easily a shorter distance than back toward Bow (Mind the Gap). However the Tube Map doesn't show that! Who cares about the distance! All passengers are interested in is what station comes next and what exactly is it going to cost me? The Tube Map is really brilliant at telling them with clarity just that.
Web Site Development, believe it or not, is quite similar. The web site design shows a targeted audience with clarity a convenient representation of what they're searching for. The Tube Map developed by Harry Beck in 1931 is brilliant due to the fact clients travelling beneath ground actually do not care what the actual geography is since they can't see any landmarks at all; they go in one station and travel on to one more. So all the info they require is Beck's map. It is a single stand alone representation of all the information that they require to be able to get to their intended destination and chart their progress.
Although no physical travel is involved web surfers land in stations (sorry Sites) and what you would like them to do is decide that they 'have arrived' so they terminate their journey there due to the fact that they look and find all the required details and information and so there is no need to look elsewhere.
The world wide web is not the tiny place it was just 10 years ago, in a short space of time it has grown by a staggering amount. No one knows by really just how much but everyone would guesstimate that it is a huge growth factor.
One factor remains certain though it is a lot more important than ever that users can effortlessly locate your website (make it easy for them by doing some Search Engine Optimization), quickly find the site intriguing / appealing and 'stay put' to find out much more.
The Tube map has stayed as the way people find their way round the London Underground for a long period of time now and I am sure that there must have been many suggestions submitted to improve on the original map over the years. Recently British designer Mark Noad has redesigned Harry Beck's 1931 classic version to show the routes and distances between all London stations in a more geographically accurate way. The most important alterations include changing the original maps 45-degree angles into 30- and 60-degree ones to shorten the extremities of the lines to allow it to be more compact. [because there are now so many more lines and stations in comparison to 1931]. His suggestions are up for consideration nevertheless the original remains, well at least for the time being! The new map looks very nice but essentially keeps the concept of the original at its heart. Could it gain acceptance? The 1931 Map has certainly 'evolved' from the original work to something quite polished and stylish if we look at the latest versions that London Underground is now using. Provided it does its job I cannot see LT changing to something different.
Web Sites can be like this to, often the original purpose and layout is a great idea and function is spot on. However the modern world has an enormous rate of change and people quickly consider anything that stays the same some too long must be out of date and not worthy of their attention. The Tube Map is a great example of how something does not need changing as it was so well thought out at its conception. It remains as it was because it has a niche sort of function and its users are not as fickle as internet users.
Certainly if your Web Site is going to rise to the top and people are going to spread your message to their friends about the great site they know about then it has to appear 'fresh' every subsequent visit. So if your site functions well then no drastic great changes required but just a continuous constant development will get you rising obove your station - if you will forgive the pun!
Your Web Site represents you to the world, the world changes constantly, people don't expect things to remain the same and are 'switched off' by a site that continues to be the same. So bizarre as it sounds it ain't broke but you still have to fix it!

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