Extreme Makeover - Homepage Edition
So I'm watching one of the many home design shows last night and it dawned on me how similar in some ways designing a home is to web design. Now while I don't think we'll see TV shows called "Extreme Makeover - Homepage Edition" or "Trading Webspaces" anytime soon, let me explain.
In order to be a successful design, a home needs to not only be beautiful but liveable and functional. Just like a website, there are areas of a home that are "task-related" - the kitchen, the bathroom, the closet. The design of those areas should help the "user" accomplish the necessary tasks. The kitchen and bathroom should be organized and ergonomic, the closet should be free of clutter so items are easy to find.
Other areas of a well-designed home are for entertainment or socializing with others. These areas should be designed to foster this interaction in a comfortable, friendly setting.
Lastly, the whole house should be tied together with a color scheme and design that reflects the owners. It should be an extension of "who they are."
See any similarities now? The task related areas (registration, e-commerce, etc) of your website should be simple and user-friendly. The search function should help users find content without having to wade through clutter. The social areas of your site (message boards, blogs) should be welcoming, supportive, and comfortable to your users. And the visual design of your site should be a consistent reflection of your brand.
But there's one place this analogy breaks down. You primarily build and design your home for you. You live in it. You have to feel comfortable in how it's organized, decorated, and maintained. But with a website, you're inviting all of your friends, customers and potential customers into your home. It's more important that your website is designed for them.