Culling from other's opinions about your site

Provided by the Good News Web Designers Association

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It's always smart, and sometimes required, that you show your work to others before it's finalized. They can catch mistakes your eyes have missed. They can come up with brilliant ideas you haven't thought of yet. But there is also a big danger in soliciting the opinions of others, especially if they have no expertise in website design. They might want you to make changes that cause your mouse to go, "Eek!"

Of course, if you're working on someone else's website, their word is final, even if you don't like it. ("Eek, grrrr!") Sometimes you can convince your employers of a better way to do it, and sometimes they won't see past their own fixations. That's life as a web-servant. But if you have any say in the matter, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Don't ask, "Well, what do you think?" Rather, ask for specifics such as, "Where does your eye go first on this page?" and "What kind of mood does this stir up in you?" and "How long did you stay interested in the site?"

Find a friend who is similar to the intended target audience of the site, and ask how he/she is affected by viewing it. Does it accomplish what you intended it to? Does he feel talked down to? Is the text hard to understand?
Don't ask for critiquing from everybody who shows interest. If you showed the same page to ten people, you'd get at least ten different opinions! Which ones should you take seriously? Protect yourself from confusion and amateurish ideas. Limit whom you solicit input from.
Think about the comments people make ~ look past the surface and discover what they're really saying. "Take the animated angel off because it looks childish" might really mean "There's too much animation on the page already" or it might mean "I only believed in angels when I was a kid and I don't want to give up my adult disbelief."



Download this tutorial as a printable Word Document.


Create an online survey (using forms) for visitors to fill out and submit to you. Ask them to rate the site, list favorite pages, and suggest what they'd like to see added. Ask why they came to this site, and request other information (such as age, income, gender, marital status, etc.) that helps you find out what kind of person uses your site, why, and how often they visit.

Enlist someone to be your proof-reader. Even after you've used a spell-checker and you've read the text a thousand times, you've probably missed something ~ precisely because you've read it a thousand times.

Find a soul-mate ~ another Web designer who has the same skills (or better) as you do.   Develop a relationship (even if only by email). We all are alone behind these computer screens, so we need to reach out and seek each others' expertise and camaraderie.

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