Wed

6

JUN

2001

Design and Site Growth

While growth is often a welcome and positive sign, how the growth is designed and managed makes a major difference, of course.

If you’re an architect designing a building to easily expand later, such as a hospital adding a new wing, there are lots of details to work out. You’ll need to consider how and where to knock out walls, how to handle the plumbing, electrical wiring, parking, adding on to seamlessly blend in to the existing building, ensuring there’s sufficient property available, and more.

Much like initially designing that building, when you initially design a Web site, envision how to expand the site’s navigation and overall architecture to allow for growth.

  • Consider the content and how best to organize, categorize, and expand, even if there are only abstract possibilities for the time being.
  • If you envision tremendous growth and adding many categories, for example, consider that when you initially design the site.
  • If you envision adding new articles and perhaps an online store later, consider how to expand those areas, archive the articles, and where you can later create the navigation spot for the new online store.
  • Create mock-ups of possibilities to ensure that your earlier smaller design will grow into a larger, more expansive site with ease.

Keep in mind that consistent design is more user-friendly, too. Your long-time users grow accustomed to a certain interface for your site. If planned well from the start, you’ll be able to modify it in smaller amounts to allow for expansion without having to do a major overhaul and reconstruction whenever you need to expand. Consider Amazon.com, for example. While this now gigantic company has grown dramatically during the past few years from initially selling books to now selling an incredibly wide range of items, the site design has grown and expanded while remaining familiar and easy to use.

Mathew Schwartz makes some valid points in his new article for ComputerWorld, Grow Your Site, Keep Your Users. Using eBay as a case study, Schwartz notes the dilemma with effectively categorizing millions of items for sale.

Even if you don’t have an eBay size site, user-friendly design is a critical factor in a site’s success.

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Categories: Accessibility, Design, Development, Information Architecture, Usability

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