Extreme Makeover - Web Site Edition
eBay has become one of my guilty pleasures for things like soccer jerseys and obscure music. Regardless, I consider the business eBay conducts suspect if not to a lesser degree fraudulent.
Consider the time I left my electric razor power cord in an Orlando hotel room. Within a few days, I had one from a seller on eBay who charged me $8 and another $11 to ship the thing. A friend reminded me that it probably was the hotel maid who listed it, while eBay could care less that the actual shipping cost was only two dollars.
I started to think about everything involved in such a daunting task. First of all, any publisher considering it should read two books: Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think and Actionable Web Analytics by Jason Burby and Shane Atchison. Krug offers simple, but not so obvious examples of what you can do to make usability less of an issue; while Burby’s and Atchison’s very short “Big Dog Syndrome” section and a chapter on site optimization based on solid analysis (versus just sending traffic stats to dozens of people at your company every month) make the book very valuable.
Perhaps the biggest issue we all face is that because everyone visits their favorite Web sites each day, our colleagues apparently know what a Web site should look like and how it should function, regardless of what role they actually perform. I compare it to going to your favorite restaurant every day and standing in the kitchen for 30 minutes. In a short amount of time, you may know more about what goes into your favorite dishes, but you still are far from competent to cook them.