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  1. #1
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    Teaching an old dog new tricks... or stick with the old tricks

    Time to tell me if I'm crazy or not. I worked for a company that did advertising and web development for about 2 years. Most of this companies clients were smaller companies with older owners and employees. My boss always wanted me to design/develop web sites with that in mind. Always had to have bigger then normal text. You can never have a link without having "click here" or something of that nature it in. You can never have a image that is clickable (like a thumbnail) without having "Click on the image to view a larger photograph" somewhere near it. Stuff that you and I might recognize in seconds we had to hand walk the client and there customer through.

    So I guess my question is, where is the line between designing and developing a site with that in mind and education the client/viewer on what is out there?

    I understand if you are designing a website for lets say... farmers.
    (not saying they are stupid just not tech savvy) I would assume most of them have very little knowledge of how a site works so you would want to make it as simple as possible but were do you draw the line? When do you try and education them and expand on their knowledge or dumb stuff down?

  2. #2
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Interesting question.

    As a professional, your real objective is to 'solve the problem' in a way that works for the client. If it's possible to educate the audience a bit so that they can learn to be web-savvy AND it's consistent with the client's business objectives that would be great. However, if the client 'knows his audience' and he feels that educating them we fine but it will take away from his core goals, perhaps it would be best to simply increase the font size, etc. and provide the service that they need.

    There are some circumstances where it's best to just make the site very, very easy for people to use. A good way to approach it is to work with the client a bit to learn about their clients - check the logs of their existing site and see if you can get some detail about how savvy they really are. Maybe they are more capable than your client realizes OR perhaps they are truly a hardcore newb audience and this isn't the time to educate them!

    FYI: I think you have the wrong idea about farming in the US. American farmers have embraced the internet to an incredible degree and the average farmer now uses some pretty fancy tools including systems to help with weather, crop and livestock tracking, market prices, and all sorts of operational utilities. Farmers in the US are web-savvy for sure!
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

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  3. #3
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    Thanks for the response. I knew I would get hit for the farmer thing

    I know there are a lot of other issues that could come out of this and this question is really just one facet of it. It's just hard to figure out that line for me. When I should almost be like, we will make it easy and simple... but they should learn how to use this because its normal on 80% of the sites out there.

  4. #4
    SQL Consultant gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
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    there is another important factor here: do what the boss asks, even if you think you know better

    it's okay to float the idea on friday after work at the pub -- "no, boss, let me get this round... by the way, i've been meaning to ask you, can we back off the 'click here' stuff a bit? it's ~so~ last century..."

    and please, don't knock simple...

    simple rulez!!
    rudy.ca | @rudydotca
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  5. #5
    SitePoint Addict ruby-lang's Avatar
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    Personally, I find "normal" text way too small, and I'm not even in my thirties. (don't let that avatar deceive you )

    I think that, as long as you don't cross into condescension, simple and easy won't hurt a bit, specially for an older audience.

  6. #6
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    Sagewing already said a mouthful on the topic, but there's one thing you didn't specify here: Are these sites being made for internal use at the companies or are they targeting a different market? Is it an e-commerce site or an inventory tracker?

    If you're making the sites for the "companies with old people" then it makes sense to have the sites tailored to said audience. However, if the main audience is not the company employees, you should build for the target audience instead. For instance, using "click here" as anchor text is pretty crappy as far as keyword usage goes; that text can be quite important, even for internal linking.

    The other thing to consider is, could some of these usability "enhancements" give the same effect using a different method? For instance, instead of wasting lots of space putting something like "Move your mouse cursor over the image and click, it will totally show you a bigger picture!" could you instead use CSS to style the image links to include an overlay of a hand icon, generally associated with a link? Or perhaps an on-hover CSS for the link that changes the image border color? These changes may seem insignificant at times, but can add professionalism and usability to a design without sacrificing the initial goal.
    Call me Ishmael Tom.
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  7. #7
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    What you are expressing is a tired old song heard around developer boards.

    It's title is: "I know better than the client/boss".

    Reality check: for some odd reason they know at least enough to own the company.

  8. #8
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    I like to think in terms of there being a series of important lessons or steps that lead from point A to point Z. You can't tell someone about point M when they can barely understand points A and B. So there is an evolution that should take place with the customer over a period of time where they become more educated about their site.

    I try not to ever hold back any "secrets", as they would have a hard time having the deeper understanding that I have now. At the same time, they are not always ready for certain ideas, so it is my job to learn what they need to know next, and if I do that right, I have a good customer.

  9. #9
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    r937: I totally agree. It was more of a general question then for a specific site. I know there are a lot of factors that can go into this. I'm just trying to figure out how to get at least some of the new stuff out there to these people. I'm not going to do a full site in flash, mystery meat navigation or anything like that.

    ruby-lang: I also agree with this. I like to keep things readable and I try not to do the small *** text but I also think adding in a simple font size icon for plus and minus would do the trick without changing the design so it works with everyone but changes font size at the users request.

    binjured I have slowly been trying some of the small changes and even my boss is learning. I don't want to change anything to dramatically but thats where the core of my question is at... It seems like I'm having to take a step back with a lot of the look and feel of a site when in at least a little way I think we need to be using everything at our disposal to give the user the best experience they can have while maintaining usability.

    dvduval Couldn't of put it better. Yes that is exactly my problem. I want to get them from A to C or D... but I'm not sure which steps to take and where it will help them out the most. Its kinda like my grandpa and AOL.. he thinks its Gods gift to us. But you take him away from AOL email and say give him Yahoo email, he cant do it. He can't figure it out. I'm not sure why, but I tell him... if you learn how to do email with something simple then you can use it anywhere and with anyone.. not just AOL.

    hopefully I'm still making sense... hehe


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