Intermingled with my current thoughts about strategy is a related term: focus. Piggybacking off that is figuring out what it is you want to accomplish, or what it is you want your user to do. I am seeing that this is getting lost in some of the projects I work on.
Clients understandably don’t know how to get the user to accomplish tasks. They only know what they want the user to do—for example, buy a product. Our job as web designers and developers is to make it easier for users to complete the tasks the client wants them to complete, while also making it useful and desirable.
It is also our job to figure out what the client wants to accomplish. Surprisingly, this is not always communicated by the client. For example, a client may say build me a shopping cart, so you build a shopping cart. But what the client doesn’t tell you is that they really want to push one particular product. So your design gives all products equal weight, and doesn’t do what the client really wants.
Is that really your fault? Yes. Understanding the goals of the client, working with the client to define a strategy, and keeping the final product focused on that strategy is your job as a designer or developer. If you’re not doing that, you’re not really helping the client.
A great example of focusing on a goal can be seen at cre824. If you cannot determine what they want you to do within a few seconds, you’re probably using JAWS to read this post. What makes the blatant call to action really work is the design of the “Register Now” text. It’s the largest link I can recall ever seeing, and yet somehow it doesn’t seem out of place.
It’s obvious they clearly defined the goal of the page, and focused on making that as clear and easy to find as possible. And through the strong design, it works.
As that dude is Star Wars said, “Stay on target…stay on target.” And if you don’t know what your target is, pull the hell up and get out of there until you know what you’re doing. It will save the life of your work.
(Always nice to work in Star Wars references.)