II-3. Tips for Websites

II-3-2. Design


Separate from the subject matter of the content of a site is the question of accessibility and ease of use. Regardless of how interesting or relevant a web site's content might be to prospective users, the information's utility will be diminished if the content cannot be accessed quickly, easily and in a way that is subjectively pleasing.

This simplicity dictum suggests that nonprofits need to be wary of attempting to have the most sophisticated, technologically advanced web site. The focus should be on the user, not on trying to win design awards or providing bragging rights so that managers can claim their organization's web site is better than a competitor's. A well-designed web site is one that works. Rajani and Rosenberg, in another recent analysis of web design issues, observed:

What came to light in this study is that users were possibly impressed by novel ideas and high technology, but not necessarily concerned that the capabilities of the technology were used to the fullest. If the technology was there, they found it interesting and fun to be able to use multiple channels in the interface [but they also found some elements distracting, such as disturbing sound] íŽ.. the generally held assumptions that sites rich in color and animation with high tech sound to provide a " truly" human experience are good íŽ have been shaken.

What should a nonprofits look for as indicators of simplicity in design? The various benchmarks found in the usability literature fall into four broad categories:

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