I have been work­ing my legs too hard over the last cou­ple of weeks with my non-stop cycling. Last week­end cer­tain­ly was not enough time to let me legs recu­per­ate. I decid­ed to dri­ve to work this morn­ing in hopes that a third day will be enough to get my legs back to nor­mal.

Any­how, while walk­ing from my truck to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Leth­bridge on one of the new paths, I was reflect­ing on how the path has a lot to do with web design.

Before the fall of 2002, stu­dents trav­el­ling to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Leth­bridge from the cor­ner of Uni­ver­si­ty Dri­ve and Colum­bia Boule­vard had two choic­es to get to the Uni­ver­si­ty. They could trav­el down Val­ley Dri­ve and then turn at the West Lot, trav­el­ling across the West Lot until they got to Ander­son Hall or the PE Build­ing. This was the longer option. The sec­ond option was to cut across the field, over the berm and across the Far west Lot and West Lot. This was the short­er option—albeit mud­di­er in the win­ter and when it rained.

In 2002, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Leth­bridge decid­ed to pave the path stu­dents had worn down across the field and over the berm. They also added light­ing. This made sense. After all, why not cre­ate a paved, light­ed path right where peo­ple will use it?

As I reflect­ed on this, it caused me to won­der why so many peo­ple do not do this when set­ting up infor­ma­tion archi­tec­ture on a web­site. So many web­sites make it very hard to find things. I do not know what the devel­op­ers were think­ing when they put it togeth­er, but I do know what they were not think­ing. They were not think­ing about the val­ue in hold­ing focus groups and watch­ing how vis­i­tors use the web­site and what paths they try to access infor­ma­tion.

So many devel­op­er think, “Oh, this looks cool” or “This looks good to me”, and give no thought that it needs to be cool and work; it needs to look good to you and every­one else.

If there is one thing web­site devel­op­ers need to get into their thick, obtuse, close-mind­ed heads, it is this: web­sites need to work for your users more than they need to work for you.

About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

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