For the nearly 20 years that I have been building, optimizing and testing websites, there are always those people who think I’m a weeny who knows nothing.
This recent testimonial, written by a someone I have known for a long time, came as a surprise. I know what makes a website work for ALL people, not just those who own the site. I am the only person that I know of trained in SEO, UX, IA, Accessibility and software QA testing. To stay on top of all the trends, fads, algorithms, testing methodologies and neuroscience human behavior studies that are part of my work means I don’t sleep, take family vacations or know how to play baseball.
When someone remembers your contributions, it is a joyous thing. Holistic SEO and Usability and Cre8pc Below are parts of what “Grumpus”, who helped build Cre8asiteforums, wrote:
Very early on, I realized that Google was hitting the scene, but it wasn’t very good at indexing this “dynamic” content generated by programmed web sites. At that point, Alta Vista was the “established” search engine, but we knew that Google would be the king within a year or so. With some hit and miss experiments in developing my Movie Soundtracks web site, I realized that structuring things a certain way, clear path to goal, and various other factors would encourage Google, AltaVista, and even good ole Slurp! (Yahoo’s spider back in the day) to not only harvest the data, but represent it better than most sites. So, at that point, I started looking around to try to find some people that actually understood what was going on with all this “search engine” stuff. I got very lucky, because in the very first few days, I managed to find Cre8asiteforums. I’d found a few other good forums and resources where I could talk to people and refine my “hit and miss” approach to figuring it out and turn it into something a bit more scientific, but it was the Cre8asite gang that really gave me what I needed. Of all, though, it was Kim Kopp Krause Berg aka Cre8pc (pronounced Create Peace) who made it all fit together in my head.
The point of this is that I’ve always felt sort of sorry for Kim. No, not for any lack of success, or anything like that. I’ve felt sorry that her chosen area of expertise gets no respect. There are some, like me who get it. Of course, the folks at Internet Marketing Ninjas who bought up the forum AND her talents last year get it. And, of course, most of the gang at Cre8asiteforums (then and now) get it, too. The article I’ve linked to below, here, is a good example of this.
The entire industry (especially as Google has evolved in recent years) understands and is vocalizing the importance of the ideas Kim has been trying to present for almost two decades, but they are still behind the curve when it comes to actually bothering put what they are preaching into practice.
Kim calls what she does a “Holistic” approach to web design. I’ve always called it a “Whole-istic” approach. Her real word and my made up word bear the same general meaning, though. It’s basically an understanding that a good web site that achieves its goals needs to look at the whole picture and it needs to be organized in a way that the user can do what they are trying to do, while it also encourages them to do what I, the web site owner, want them to do. With structure and ease of use as a foundation, all the other things fall into place a lot more easily. Your copy, graphics, calls to action, shopping system, blog pages, and all of that are the bricks and your usability is the mortar that holds it all together. The former things are the rooms in a giant house, and usability is the hallway that allows you to move from room to room (and that does clever things like putting the dining room next to the kitchen rather than upstairs at the end of the hall).
I’m glad that the industry is starting to come around and is at least starting to preach what Kim has been practicing since the mid 1990s. And, to be honest, I don’t really care if the rest of the industry ever starts to practice it (after all, if they don’t know how to do it, there will always be work for her, yeah?) I do hope that businesses start to get it, though.
To this day, when dealing with a new client, my most difficult obstacle is trying to explain the importance of Usability and all of that. Thanks to Kim’s lessons over the years, I’m much better at explaining exactly what the hell usability actually “is” – but it still always seems to be the first thing they want to cut when you start reaching the top of the budget plan.
THE REAL POINT of this post is for all of you other folks out there who have a web site for your business or charity and who want to make it work right…
You simply MUST find someone who understands the whole-istic approach. All the search engine traffic in the world will not help you if people can’t find what they are actually looking for. All the people who find what they are looking for do you no good if they can’t figure out how buy it or otherwise do what needs to be done once they’ve found it.
It isn’t about me. This is about investing in the right resources and people to build your website, if your livelihood depends on the revenue from it. If they have never heard of holistic web design, or do not consider the needs of every person who visits your site, and especially if they are only concerned with faking out search engines, you are putting your business at risk.