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Measuring Up 29 April 2010

Posted by schmeslie in Design, Reflection.
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In class we talked about units of measurement in terms of type and imagery on web pages. This got me thinking about the flexibility of measurement noting how it can be more or less exact depending on what is being calculated. For example, baking requires exactness to ensure a successful end product whereas cooking can be a little of this a little of that.

Often in business, performance is based by comparing against a “range” set by industry peers – in essence measuring-up against competition. One instance of this is a company website. At my company the effectiveness of the website is based by analyzing user behavior such as user paths, length of time on-site, and number of pages visited. This is then compared against industry standards.

We know that to ensure a successful website it is essential to consider potential consumer behavior when designing the site. However, this is easier said than done. Frequently website projects have many different “stakeholders” and the development becomes entangled in company politics. In this situation the design team is often at the mercy of those with a personal or company-centric mindset rather than the end user and results in a site designed for the wrong people.

It does not require much of a leap to assume these peers are in the same boat – designing with the wrong priorities. With this in mind it is safe to say the industry standard measurements are imperfect. And, likely, those at the top were able to better keep the politics out and the end user needs in. If designers were truly able to design for the end user the bar for measuring success might be a lot higher.

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