Friday, January 07, 2005

Wow! There's a Patron Saint just for us

Isadore of Seville, known as Schoolmaster of the Middle Ages, is also the patron saint of computer users.

Born c.560 at Cartagena, Spain, he lived centuries before technology, but was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XIV in 1722, and became the leading candidate for patron of computer users and the Internet in 1999. Initially a poor student, Isadore gave the problem over to God and became one of the most learned men of his time.

It's good to know St. Isadore is watching over us.
If you're looking for a patron saint, here's where I stumbled across the site that boasts over 4,000 saints.

Of course, I wasn't actually looking for a patron saint.I found it while looking for something else. Isn't that often the path to information these days?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

How to Read a Web Site

It's fun to watch someone read the newspaper. Some methodically turn pages from start to finish, section to section. Others grab the business section, sports, or crossword puzzle, then wander to editorials, local news and get lost in the wanderlust detail of the weather page. Me, I start and stop several times during the day, always interrupted, but can pick up right where I left off when I get a few more minutes to read.

Yet, web sites, containing much the same mix of loosely organized information, seem to leave people transfixed. I'm a frequent observer of people's navigation behavior and have noticed what I call the 30-second stare.

First the eye looks around the page for something, anything, appealing. Behind the eye, the brain is saying "Why am I here? What am I supposed to look at? If I click something, how will I get
back here?"

Then, the glazed look begins and the mouse is thinking: "I don't know what to do next."

Then, the click, often taking the person away from that page, forever.

You put a lot of time into the look of your web site, but like the newspaper, which produces new material every single day, you need something of value on every page, and have to give people a way to navigate where they want to go, not just where your logical mind feels they should navigate. And, always give them a way out, but invite them back. It's disappointing to follow a site for several pages and then not be able to get back to an interesting page.

So start the New Year off with some quality reading -- of your own web site. Make sure it measures up to your standards, and is also pleasing to your clients. Check the traffic your site receives through your web host, and pay special attention to which pages receive the most hits, and what pages cause people to exit the site.