What does a fisherman see when he casts a net in the sea? He sees a full stomach, enough money to buy him and his family a lot of clothes and other things, smiles, songs, dances, and prosperity. This is a perspective that is so obvious and common… what is uncommon and not so obvious is the what the fish sees. The other side of the net.

This is exactly what happen with websites on the internet. The owner, creator, or the administrator of any website sees goodwill, clients, happy browsers, surfers who decide to log in again, time spent on the pages, number of pages read, clicks, money inflow, cross-connections, loyalty, raised equity and probably a million other little advantages. However, even in this case what matters is what the person who has stumbled upon a website will see.

So what do I really see in a website?

The design and layout?

Well, to some extent, yes. This is surely what makes me want to spend more time. Sometimes it is the unique nature of the visual stimulation that hold my attention. But will I come again and again to the same site to see the same design and give it the same smile and silent applause? Chances are that I will not. So design and layout too need to be somewhat dynamic. Let me explain what I mean by this. If my blog has a mast-head with ten pictures that change in a sequence, I need to make sure that they are different after a certain period. Now, my blog has this and I make sure that the posts that the mast-head promotes, gets changed after every few weeks. Of-course the home page does have a new post almost daily and so there is a certain degree of freshness that even a daily surfer or reader or viewer will get. Hope you’ve got the point I wish to make.

What is vital is that a site needs to open speedily… even on machines that are functioning on slower net connections. Include design elements like flash-clips only if you’re sure your readers will be able to open and view them.

There is another design issue that plagues a lot of websites… browser compatibility. I remember a lot of .nic site opening easily on internet explorer but floundering when one tries to open them on Chrome or Firefox. This is something that needs to be addressed without delay.

The navigation?

Yes, this is quite vital. Why would I want to reach out to a website where I get lost every time I am there? I want the navigation to be uncomplicated, straight-forward, and without surprises. No twists and turns in navigation help. I need to be sure of the shortest route to wherever I may want to reach when deep inside a website.

The other important factor here is that I would not want to be led out if I am clicking an external link. If a post on my blog has an external link of a sponsor and clicking on it shoos me out of that site and into the new one, I have actually lost a reader.

The content?

I was talking Specky, my wife, and she once asked, ‘I have seen blogs where the content appeared full of grammatical errors and I was disgusted.’

Even I would be. After all, I reach out to a website with intent to know more. This simply means that I need not just information but also viewpoints… I need indepth analysis that would help me understand that topic.

It isn’t surprising to find content being hailed as the king everywhere. It is. Content is what rules minds…

So what is it that stands out?

Thus in the tussle between the design, navigation, and content, it is the lines that are formed by words that matter most. Content, by the way, isn’t just putting everything in a sequential order and then sitting back to see readers come and lap it all up. I have seen a lot of tech reviewers place a long list of some gadget specifications and add a couple of inane lines to make the post appear like a review. It isn’t. The reader is not a nincompoop… he understands the value of a nicely presented post.

Let me clarify here that content isn’t just TEXT. Yes, the written word matters but what matters is how a post is garnished with pictures or videos or illustrations or toons or drawings… anything that is done well and fits the scheme of things is going to add value to the text that is there.

Even the text can be in the form of a short-story… I remember having written a gadget review in the form of a short thriller. There was another that was inspired by the battle between Rama and Ravana. Yet another went into the heart of a science fiction. There one that I wrote as a poem. Yes, you can read all of these different forms of ‘content’ on my blog here.

It isn’t just eyes that search, you know
The mind too to wisdom will bow
And different things converge to show
How diverse facets in togetherness glow!

So let me answer the question that I asked at the start of this post: What do I really see in a website?

I am like the fish that is watching the fisherman and his world of dreams and ambitions and I know when and why I would want to be hauled by the net that he has cast! I know you’re sceptical about this analogy… so let me just add that humans are better equipped than fishes and are much more difficult to net! This is reason enough for a website creator to sweat more and come up with a concept that is new and dynamic.

One final observation… it is good to keep learning new skills and adding them to the way you present your content online. I do this all the time.

I don’t have any one favourite website that I’d want to talk about. However, some of the sites that I really admire are:

STORIFY
CALORIEKING
BIGTHINK
KHAN ACADEMY

Obviously, I like these sites because of the dynamic way their content captures my attention every time I happen to be there. Add their unique design and layout and I have no reason to despise them. Frankly, I love twitter as a website… I love Facebook too… their inherent ease is what has endeared them to millions of people all over the world. There are so many other social media websites but they are nowhere near the sort of happiness that these sites spread.

Mr website

This post is for an online contest on THE BLOG BOWL and sponsored by WEBRITI

 

Arvind Passey
25 December 2013