About Us Pages – Is There A Point?

For a long time, I automatically included an “About Us” page on every website I did. Why? It just seemed to be “the done thing”.

But the more I think about it, it’s pointless most of the time. (Note: I’m talking about commercial websites here.)

Sure, there will be cases where it is relevant, but most of the time, who cares? People are generally visiting your website for selfish reasons. They want something. They’re not really that interested in you, only what you can do for them.

And About Us pages always seem to be the most difficult to do; the hardest to write. So I’m not going to do them anymore unless there’s a convincing reason to include one!

What do you think?

The Move is Taking Shape…

Our move into a larger office is getting closer…

We’ve painted a couple of the walls, carpet is down, phone lines have been switched on (now we just need to wait for the actual phones to be installed!)

New walls and carpetWhen we signed the lease there was about 5 or 6 weeks until we officially took over. At the time we thought, “That’ll take forever!” In reality, it has really only just been long enough!

Only a week to go!

Eye Tracking Research on Dead Zones

I have to admit – I’m becoming a bit hooked by this eye-tracking thing.

Greg’s latest post highlights that content in visual “dead zones” may as well not be there – and he tested this by putting complete gibberish in an identified dead zone to see if anyone noticed.

And only 1 in 25 did!

The other thing that struck me is that in his example, the visual dead zone was smack bang in the middle of the page! Comments brought out that this was due to the visually prominent elements directly above the area identified as a dead zone. People tend to focus on them, and ignore what’s directly below.

Just goes to show: You learn something new every day!

A Quest For Ancient Geekiness

The year was 1984. Or 1985. No, pretty sure it was 1984.

The computer? A Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer 2. Or CoCo for short. 16 kilobytes of RAM. 320×240 8 colour display. External tape drive. No internal hard drive.

I wrote a game on this computer – I was about 14 or 15. It was published in a computer magazine. Back then there was no “cover cd” – each program was listed inside the mag and you had to type each line in yourself if you wanted it! (I’m glad you don’t have to do that any more!)

This game was called “Supply Ship”. It was a clone of the Commodore 64 game “Jupiter Lander”.

Do you think I have a copy of the magazine my game was published in? A game I wrote when I was 14 or 15? Of course not!

So if you happen to have an old “Rainbow CoCo” magazine, or any Tandy TRS-80 magazine from that era, please check and see if you have my issue… Please!! I’m having a mid-life crisis trying to find an old copy!

Maybe Fixed Width is Better?

Greg Edwards has posted an interesting piece of research, tracking where people actually look on a couple of different CSS Zen Garden designs.

It’s a good comparison, because the content is exactly the same – it’s just has different visual treatment.

And the first thing I noticed is that the wider column on the original design was read less than the narrower column on design 145. Is this a convincing argument for fixed width designs? I think it’s hard to ignore – it will be interesting to see the results of future comparisons!

Website Project Management Part 2 : Principles

(If you haven’t already – see Part One – An Introduction to Project Management)

When dealing with project management for website development, there are really on two things to juggle.

  1. Tasks
  2. Resources

Sounds simple, right?

Tasks

Tasks are fairly obvious. They are the things you have to do. I have found it useful to group your tasks into phases – it helps to get a better overview of where you are (instead of looking at a great long list of unrelated tasks) and it’s also easier to set up a template of standard tasks that you then simply customise for each job. We generally use the following phases:

  1. Planning
  2. Content gathering and editing
  3. Design
  4. Programming
  5. Construction/Assembly
  6. Testing
  7. Post Launch

Tasks near the beginning and end of a website project tend to be repeated, so make a template out of these at least. And look for the things that you generally do in the middle phases, and write these down as well. You can easily customise your list if the individual project warrants it.

Once we have our list of tasks together, we now need to make them happen!

Resources

In project management, resources can be anything from people to equipment to buildings or meeting rooms – anything you need to get the tasks done. Relating back to web design, we’re really only talking about people, or manhours more specifically. Time. If you have 80 hours of tasks to be done, and George has 20 available hours this week and Mildred has 15, it ain’t going to get finished this week!

Another point to consider – people aren’t productive 100% of the time. We’re not robots. So if you employ someone for 38 hours per week, you’re wasting your time allocating them 38 hours worth of tasks. Never going to happen. I work on allocating 4 hours out of every 5. If they happen to get finished earlier than expects, then good! Get a head start on tomorrow’s work. But you need to allow time to get coffee, visit the loo, chat about the movie you saw on the weekend or whatever.

Okay, that’s enough theory. Next installment we’ll start getting our hands dirty!