Content That Works on the Web (1,084 words)
Take, for instance, the Web site for Novartis, a leading life sciences company. Novartis views its Medical Education (MedEd) Web site (www.meded.pharma.us.novartis.com) as a critical platform for nurturing long-term relationships with its customers: medical and allied health students and professionals. Novartis already had a MedEd Web site three years ago. However, the company recognized last year that this site no longer served the appropriate corporate image, and that the site's content needed reorganization. My company, Logical Design Solutions (LDS), designed a new site for Novartis. We tried to make the pages more colorful, the text and graphics better balanced.
In executing this design, LDS paid as much attention to usability as to aesthetics. In fact, as a proponent of user-centered Web design, LDS turns to focus groups or other survey methods to assess the needs and preferences of users. For the Novartis MedEd Web site, reviewing focus group results helped LDS determine how best to organize and present the site's content. The result is a site where visitors can navigate easily and quickly locate information on the educational products offered by Novartis.
In light of growing demand for dynamic, content-rich Web applications, designers should keep in mind that content analysis requires considerable time investment. Those who are serious about developing intelligent, dynamic applications must approach content analysis from a new perspective, taking into account the following considerations.
Scope Out Content
When starting a new Web application, act quickly to assess the scope of the development effort ahead of you. Speed is critical, as issues that are easily addressed at this early stage can become nonnegotiable later. Resolve differences in scope ambitions immediately, before further work takes place on the project.
Accurately scoping the project at the outset and documenting agreed-to parameters at this early stage will help prevent misunderstandings later on. For example, one LDS client scaled back its project ambitions when it realized the initial proposal would require more resources and time than it was able to invest. The scaled-back initial phase ultimately resulted in a more realistic, attainable project.