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Is Web Site Design Obsolete?


March 9, 2009 - 0 Comments

Over the last 18 months, I’ve given a talk pretty regularly called “Design your web site from the bottom up.” The idea is that many people will arrive on a page deep within your site via a search engine of referring URL, and you need to choreograph those landing experiences so that visitors ultimately get to where they what they are looking for and engage with you.You can see examples of this kind of thinking throughout Cisco.com, where we include helpful “See Also” links, chat engagements, videos, whitepapers, and other resources to give the landing visitor a self-contained experience and also help with related content — even if they landed deep within the site and didn’t come in from the home page.Now, Lee Gomes writing in Forbes makes a further assertion that “[Google]’s search engine could make Web site design and navigation obsolete.” I can appreciate the sentiment, but I think this may be going overboard. First of all, landing experiences have to be designed too, even if they’re deep within the site. For instance, if you land on this page about Public Telepresence, you are probably curious about some basic things like what Public Telepresence is, where you can host meetings, and how to get started. I guarantee you that somebody thought about these things and designed them into this page. imageWhat’s more, there’s a standard structure to this page that can get you to general information Telepresence; to information about Cisco (in case you are new to Cisco and thinking about doing business with us); to information about other products and solutions; and even back to the home page if you want to know more about the many things Cisco does. We know from experience and from examining our site metrics that many people who land deep in the site do indeed come to visit the home page, product gateway page, and other key pages to learn about Cisco and Cisco products. So, while it is true that increasingly you should think about designing those ‘bottom up experiences” — since that’s how people arrive at your site — it’s still important to think about the overall structure of your site and important interchange areas such as home pages, support gateways and product gateways.My advice? Keep designing both top down and bottom up and you’ll be just fine.

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