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21 January 2008

How Are You at Doing the Stuff They Don't See?

I do stuff around the house. I run the vacuum, I pick up after the kids, I make our bed and do outside stuff among other things.

But today as I was walking through the house I started thinking about all the little things my wife does that I don't even see - things that just get done. Some are done during the day when I'm not there and others are done right under my nose. But the fact is they get done.

One example is the wastebasket in our bathroom. It occurred to me that I may have dumped it once or twice in two years. But it's typically empty.

Another is the mail. My wife gets the mail, goes through the bills and gets them paid. I can't tell you the last time I opened a bill or even looked at one. But we're not being evicted.

Two things that I don't think twice about, because they get done.

And so it is with our web strategy. There are those things which people notice - the big things that splash across the home page, stream at 640x360 or interact with the end user. But what about all those little things that go unnoticed? Here are just a few:

  • Standardization - Controlled in part by your CSS (cascading stylesheet) but also a concerted effort on your part to make graphics, colors, headers and other things play nice together.
  • Maintenance - Keeping fresh pages out there and ensuring content isn't old.
  • Architecture - Ensuring there is good flow to your site so the user feels comfortable leaving the home page and getting around.
  • Familiarity - On the one hand there's nothing good about doing what everyone else is doing. But there are certain things that you just don't want to mess with. For example, a hyperlink needs to change color or incorporate some other hover property so that the user knows they can click on it. And for crying out loud make sure the cursor changes to a hand when it hovers over the link. Its confusing when you rollover a link and you don't get the hand.

Just 4 of the many things we do that nobody notices unless we fail to do them. I'm sure you can think of more.

Take time to document some of these little things for those working with you. Do they know how important they are? It's so much easier when everyone is on the same page. And your site will thank you for it later.

And by the way Tammy - thanks for all those little things you do that I don't notice...