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Old 19th August 2006, 09:11 AM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Bowling Green KY
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Default Ugly Sells - How Ugly Websites Can Still Sell

Ugly sells.

That's right ugly websites are surprisingly effective in making money. As a person who puts business before technology, a profitable website is a website is an unbelievably attractive website to me.

The Surprising Truth About Ugly Websites
by Mark Daoust
This is a great article about usability of a website versus attractability. As a web developer who is "artistically challenged" I enjoyed this very much but it also underscores an argument that I had with a shoe store.

A few years ago I was persuaded to help some friends of mine build a full blown shoe store online. I mean the works, from accounting to inventory. It was a project to say the least and it was right after 9/11 so I was flying allot of Air Evac missions with the Air Force at the time.

My "friends" (who are not friends anymore) and I had some heated discussions about all the time I was spending on the backend, forms and scripting. They would suggest that I spend more time on the colors and graphics instead of all the computer mumbo jumbo. I would try to explain the importance of database security or compressing database calls into as few requests as possible only to receive the proverbial "dear in the headlight stare."

I spent countless hours in the back of a C-9A at 35,000 feet with my laptop in my lap creating a backend that looked and felt like QuickBooks just so it was easier to understand. I wrote a genius script (yeah, I partial) that allowed the product managers the ability to use check boxes to create all of the SKU records for a pair of shoes.

Doesn't sound like much? Did you know that one pair of shoes can have nearly 5000 SKU's? If you count the brand, model, color, size, width all add up to a PILE of database records. I created one call to the db to look for existing and active products, put them in an array and populated the check box grid. The manager could check the unchecked and uncheck the checked and when they hit enter, all the inserts and updates were batched through the array. SAH-WEET.

But just like you just skimmed through that description, they didn't appreciate it either. (LOL)

I spent my time creating easy and accessible ways for the shopper to browse the shoes, update their order and check out no matter if they were on a 14,400 modem or on a fiber optic pipeline. I spent my time creating a tool that would optimize the product photos so the would load quickly as well as convey product information in the alt tags and file names.

Oh I was proud of this application.

The site sold a pile of shoes too. Well, as many as it could with only one popular brand.

The point of this was post was the time I invested in the usability was 'unappreciated' by the others in the business which created a good amount of friction. I was enticed by a huge 7 digit carrot and a promise... I ended up with a hole in the ground where that carrot should have been (nothing) and a broken promise from my "friends."

I always felt that I was over critical of unusable websites because I knew how to improve them... it would appear that consumers appreciate the work of the man (oops... person) behind the curtain because they are spending money on ugly website THAT WORK!

Whew, I was just going to post the link. Happy Saturday to ya and good luck in your ventures.

David Francis | Bowling Green KY USA | SoKy Local Business

Last edited by SoKyBiz; 19th August 2006 at 09:14 AM.
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