Victus Spiritus

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Designers are from Venus, Hackers are from Mars, Clients are on Earth

14 Oct 2010

The Pitch

The primary design challenge for any web or mobile app is gracefully greeting a new visitor and introducing them to an irresistible offering. Advanced functions and options should be carefully tucked away in a dashboard, much like a hidden panel in a mastermind's secret lair. The landing page is an open line of communication from designers to potential or returning clients. Hackers and engineers primary job on this page is to keep the site up and running fast and smooth.

The most effective landing pages communicate how to dive in with a brief animation or video clip, followed by an obvious call to action (sign up/purchase button).

Hackers and Web Developers are prone to forget how troubling any advanced operations are to browsers
I skate the fine line between web hacker, noob designer, and normal*. The majority of web browsers are looking for information and to get work done. While I'm able to understand most code, it takes me a bit longer than a dedicated web hacker to understand nuances of a novel framework (weeks not days) with dozens of subdirectories and files (couchapps, a sinister foe). My year of web dev with HTTP message formats, and protocol handshakes in a variety of scripting languages has given me just enough knowledge to be dangerous. I'll write a follow on post on some of the lessons I've learned in my first year of hacking.

How to gauge what's acceptable to normal web browsers

Funded or profitable companies make numerous designs and A/B test them all, optimizing some discretely sampled space for client subscription. I'm one guy who doesn't like building many sites and paying for ads, so I look to my wife's adoption of tools and communication services to see what's acceptable.

She picked up the Mac photo and style tool instantly and has crafted beautiful layouts of our wedding. But she doesn't do much with web apps beyond Facebook, Google search, Netflix and the Weather Channel. Sure she browses like crazy with the iPad or her phone but prefers leaving window frames open instead of bookmarking or using other tools. They're too complicated to be of interest to her.

Notes:
*= designers and web hackers are abby normal