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In producing websites , Web services, and Web applications, the decisions and practices of managers are at least as important as those of designers and implementers. Often, bloopers by developers are caused by bloopers by their managers.
This appendix summarizes the three biggest bloopers development managers make and how to avoid them. For more details see Johnson (2000, Chapter 8).
Imagine you're planning your dream house, you want state-of-the-art electrical wiring, so you hire a top- notch electrician to design that aspect of the house. But your budget is limited, so you also ask the electrician to design the house's plumbing, heating, insulation, frame, roof, and foundation. While you're at it, you ask the electrician to decorate the interior and paint the exterior.
Ridiculous as this scenario sounds, it's precisely what many organizations do with properties far more valuable than any dream house: their websites. People who are professionals at certain tasks are assigned additional tasks for which they are not. This amounts to entrusting the design of a site partly or mostly to amateurs.
One increasingly sees job announcements seeking a combination of programmer, graphic artist, interaction designer, usability tester, and technical writer all in one person. Take the following for example:
Such people are extremely rare-perhaps nonexistent. Certainly, some people think they know everything. However, it is more common for people to know their limitations and welcome expert help in areas outside their competence. For example, Web programmers I have worked with are often grateful when a skilled writer relieves them of the responsibility for instructions and error messages. Job announcements such as the aforementioned one just represent wishful thinking by managers facing tight schedules and limited budgets .
If a person assigned to design part of a website lacks the relevant skills, experience, and guidelines, then part of the site is being designed by an amateur . The likely result will be some of the bloopers described in this book. Any such bloopers are the fault not of the people who commit them, but of their managers.
To avoid amateurish websites laden with bloopers, get the right people for the job:
Task analysis, navigation, transactions, forms, and other interactive aspects of a site should be designed by experienced interaction or user-interface designers.
Text in a site, especially link labels, instructions, and error messages, should be written-or at least reviewed or edited-by technical writers.
Site color schemes, page templates, icons, and custom graphic elements should be designed by graphic designers.
Sites, especially those with dynamic pages, should be implemented by skilled Web developers.
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