Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Findability, Orphan of the Web Design Industry

The importance of findability to website design ...

"Once upon a time in a web design agency, there lived a sad little boy named Findability. He was a very good boy with a big heart for helping people…

* find the websites they seek,
* find content within websites, and
* rediscover valuable content they’d found.

He used his arsenal of talent for planning, writing, coding, and analysis to create websites that could connect with a target audience.

Although Findability had a closely knit family, he felt like an orphan, because his siblings always seemed to get the lion’s share of time and attention from the folks in the web design agency. Everyone fawned over the curly-haired, rosy-cheeked twins Information Architecture and Usability who put everything in its place with a label that all would understand. Project Management garnered everyone’s respect for his deft communication, confident leadership, and his well-pressed, khaki trousers. Although Development was a little nerdy and shy, everyone admired his brilliance—from which he created an artificially intelligent search algorithm in just two lines of code. Super-hip Design was the cutest of them all. He seemed to win top accolades all by himself whether his siblings joined him on a project or not.

Everyone seemed to have their place in the project life-cycle at the web design agency; everyone but little Findability. Occasionally someone would notice his value to a project, but instead of giving him the care he deserved, they’d just fork over copious amounts of cash to ship him off to his sketchy uncle SEO, who tied him up and fed him keywords all day long. He spent so much time at uncle SEO’s that everyone started to think Findability was SEO, and subsequently became a little dubious of his importance.

Although Findability felt ignored or misunderstood, he knew that if he was given a chance, he could ensure that the brilliant work of his talented siblings reached their target audience. If only he were appreciated as much as the others, he could alleviate much of the everyday frustration that so many users experience when searching for information to solve their problems and satiate their curiosities.

But what could poor Findability do to be brought into the fold, to be loved and appreciated as much as his siblings? He just needed an advocate at the web design agency to promote his virtues.

That, dear reader, is where you come in. For the unfortunate moral to this sad little story is that we are the ones missing out by not making Findability a priority in what we do. There’s much to gain if only we recognize its value.
Why You Should Care About Little Findability

Despite its invaluable benefits to our work as web professionals, findability is tragically misunderstood, or worse—overlooked entirely. Perhaps we get so caught up in our respective disciplines that it’s simply lost in the shuffle. Maybe findability is on our radar but carries a negative stigma because it’s perceived as search engine duping SEO. Either way it seems that findability is left in the cold because we don’t understand it and don’t see where it fits into our process.

The fundamental goal of findability is to persistently connect your audience with the stuff you write, design, and build. When you create relevant and valuable content, present it in a machine readable format, and provide tools that facilitate content exchange and portability, you’ll help ensure that the folks you’re trying to reach get your message.

A website that ignores findability is whispering into the wind, hoping that someone passing by might catch a hint of its message. To further complicate the chances of reaching your target audience, a cacophony of other websites are vying for the same commodity—attention."    (Continued via Maifith Design)    [Usability Resources]

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