Month: October 2005

Off-topic: Norbert Marszalek website

Norbert is a friend of ours from Pear Design, and an accomplished painter. He asked me to help him get his portfolio online. I took a great design from him, added some Flash and XHTML and some PHP and XML… well, go to and see for yourself. I’m especially proud of the right-click menu.

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Dont make users search for important links

If you want someone to join your organization or make a donation, you better make sure they can find their way to a checkout page. Avoid using simple text links that can get lost in a page. A quick example:

Donation page example that uses a text link

A text link like the one above (1) doesn't stand out enough. The "make a donation" link is the most important element of the page. So, why is it tucked away with the background information? Here's a better way:

Donation page example that uses a large button

Now it's extremely clear what I click on if I want to make a donation. And I don't have to read a small paragraph to find the link.

TOSS IT: Technology Oversell for the Sad Sake of Information Technology

Many software companies, particularly those directly serving the association market, claim to have the solution to all of your problems — especially those pesky problems that don’t even exist.

In most cases, savvy, well-educated consumers realize when they are being sold something of no value. This results in a consumer looking elsewhere or opting not to make the purchase. However, when it comes to IT solutions, even the most seasoned business owners get suckered into something they will never use.

The cause of this bloat is obviously due to a mismatch between the needs of the consumer and the offerings of the business supplying the software. Make no mistake though, this mismatch is a predetermined calculation on behalf of most software companies.

To determine why this is happening, let’s analyze a traditional transaction outside of software. For instance, when a person walks into a car dealership, they have likely conditioned themselves to be wary and skeptical of everything promised to them, even after the consumer has committed to purchasing the vehicle.

Now, let’s analyze a software transaction. Many times, when a software company oversells their product, they are doing so in a context that they know more than you do. This may be true in the small world of how software is written and deployed. However, nobody knows more than you do about the needs of your business. Many times, consumers give software companies too much credit based on the fact that they are the "technology experts". As if tech firms are Ghostbusting geniuses that could detect phantom functionality within your organization.

You should always feel confident in all business relationships, including that of your software vendor. Don’t let them intimidate you with convoluted hyperbole. At the end of the day, you are the one who knows your business and you should be comfortable with the software you chose to help you accomplish your goals. So next time condition yourself and TOSS IT!

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