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Chapter 1. Customer-Centered Web Design > Designer-Centered Design

Designer-Centered Design

Designer-centered design (also known as ego-centered design) is still popular in certain circles. One designer was quoted in a popular industry rag as saying, “What the client sometimes doesn't understand is the less they talk to us, the better it is. We know what's best.” This is exactly what we mean.

Don't get us wrong, though. Some design teams have deep-seated creative urges that are matched only by their incredible technical ability. They can create sites that are cool, edgy, and loaded with the latest technologies. In some cases, this is exactly the image a company wants to project. Unfortunately, these kinds of sites can also be slow to download, as well as hard to use, and they may not work in all Web browsers. Designer-centered design is fine for some art Web sites, but not for e-commerce or informational sites whose livelihood depends on a large number of repeat visitors.

In company-centered design, designers give no thought to why people would visit the company's Web site and what they would want to do there. In technology-centered design, technology is an end rather than a means of accomplishing an end. In designer-centered design, the needs of other people are placed beneath the creative and expressive needs of the design team. Contrast these styles with customer-centered design, which emphasizes customers and their tasks above all, and sees technology as a tool that can empower people.

Top Ten Signs That Things Are Going Badly

  1. “Our Web site is intuitive and user-friendly.”

  2. “We need to start doing some usability tests before our launch next month.”

  3. “We can use [XML / SOAP / insert other buzzword technology] to fix that.”

  4. “If you stop and think about how the interface works for a second, it makes complete sense.”

  5. “How can our customers be so stupid? It's so obvious!”

  6. “Well, they should RTFM!”[1]

  7. “We don't need to do any user testing. I'm a user, and I find it easy to use.”

  8. “We'll just put an 'Under Construction' sign there.”

  9. “Shrink the fonts more so that we can put more content at the top.”

  10. “We need a splash screen.”

[1] Read The Fantastic Manual.

Company-centered, technology-centered, and designer-centered design styles were understandable in the early days of the Web when designers were still finding their way. In the old worldview, few people really considered what customers wanted. Now, successful and easy-to-use sites like amazon.com, yahoo.com, and ebay.com are designed from the ground up to meet the needs of their customers. In the new worldview, your careful consideration of customers, as reflected in your Web site, will help you achieve long-lasting success.

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