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Chapter 7. The Web Site > Conceptualizing the Site with a Visitor-Centered Focu...

Conceptualizing the Site with a Visitor-Centered Focus

Depending on the site's genre, which embodies its purpose, the site visitor can be an e-shopper, an information browser, a newsreader, a tourist, a student, a combination of these, or one of many other visitor types. Regardless of the visitor's specialized usage characteristics, which are considered at the genre level, visitor-centered design considerations must be incorporated at this time.

Keep the User in Focus

The designer should start with the question: What do I need to do to target the site's audience? The answer will require not only understanding the user, as discussed in Chapter 4, but also getting specific information on site visitors and what they want. Such information can be gathered effectively through the use of online questionnaires or forms without intruding on user privacy. Figure 7.1 is a sample registration form used by Barnes & Noble to collect information on customers interested in receiving a newsletter.

Figure 7.1. Barnes & Noble registration form

(© 2001 Barnes & Noble.com. Reprinted with permission.)

Focusing on the user also means designing for clients' hardware and software environments. If the user population is likely to use more than one browser, then designers should make sure that their designs work equally well for various desktop browsers as well as for mobile devices. The same attention should be paid to users' network connectivity. If, for example, we determine that most members of the target audience have modems with slow connection speeds, then designing for usability means giving a higher priority to reducing the file size of the graphics on the site.

Site Personalization.

It is important tvisitors want. Visitors should have the option of giving the site permission to personalize its services. For example, ao have in place noninvasive tools—those that do not violate privacy concerns—to continually gauge what n e-business site such as Amazon.com can collect information on its customers' habits and use it to send them “relevant” shopping information. In this case, Amazon.com is attempting to be visitor-adaptive by anticipating the needs of the user.

To make personalization totally visitor-centered, the e-business should first find out if the user is comfortable with being tracked to get personalized service. It is not enough to ask the user, “Can we send you information on related items?” or “Can we tailor the presentation of the site to the types of requests you've made in the past?” As part of asking users if they want personalization, the e-business should explain that it involves constructing user profiles based on tracking the visitors' past site behaviors.

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