Friday, April 29, 2005

"Eight Things You Can Do Now to Improve On-Screen Readability"

Do you agree with this article? I don't -- especially the part about creating and embedding a custom font.

I think it's a good thing readers have control over how information is displayed on their computers. I once had a colleague with low vision, and for him, it was easiest to read content online if he had the background set to a dark color -- usually purple -- with the type in white or yellow.

For a designer, "user-centered" means checking aspects of your ego at the door. (It does for content folks too, just in different ways, but we'll tackle that in another post someday.)

Comments welcome....

Friday, April 22, 2005

good Web content represents the meeting between what you want to tell people and what they want to know

It's one thing to post information on your site, and another thing altogether to make it relevant to the reader.

People come to your site with a goal in mind -- research a specific product, find out whether they should work for you, apply for a grant, conduct a transaction with you. If you think about it, you know what their goals are.

Help them do what they came for. Don't make them visit several sections of the site -- if your information must live in separate places, link to the information they are likely to want.

Read a longer article about this on my website.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

More on the "why" of content management

I recently read a quote in Utne Reader that brought home my point about content management: “America is strong on how and weak on why.”

Most of the content management information out there is devoted to the “how”:
  • how newer, more robust and more usable software will enable more content management functionality
  • how to do more inside your organizations
  • how to get more out of your IT department
But without the why, the how is risky and may be an expensive failure.

Why do we need to manage content?
Do we manage content offline, or is this a case of using technology simply because it exists?

The projects I’ve worked on usually have a mantra: Just because we can doesn’t necessarily mean we should. I completely agree with this.

  • make sure rules exist for content before building templates
  • make sure legal department will log into the CMS to review and approve content before paying extra for a system with complex branching and looping workflow
  • make sure updating content is someone’s responsibility before setting rules where the lack of approval causes a piece of content to be automatically deleted.
CMS software can enable ever more nuanced rules for assigning, storing, approving, publishing, surfacing, archiving and deleting content. But it cannot create order where none exists, can’t write the business rules and can’t substitute for a strategy.