Thursday, July 2, 2009

eDoorways Part 5 - Enterprise Driven Design

Designed for the Enterprise
The developer of eDoorways is speakTECH. This development firm is described by eDoorways as a company specializing in building applications for large enterprise clients.

It should come as no surprise that the screenshots posted for the eDoorways 'SOLVE' platform look strikingly similar to an enterprise application. The images look busy, cluttered, and full of all kinds of tools and buttons. Enterprises love that stuff. End users hate it.

Consumers consistently use simple and efficient tools over complex and combersome tools. In a previous post I referenced the comparison of (failed) and (failed) to Microsoft's first two attempts were to beat Google by offering more and more tools all right up front. Because Google is simple, fast, and effective, it's market share grew ever more dominant.

Why does design matter?
If eDoorways were designed as a software package to be sold to enterprises, it would undoubtedly do quite well. The problem is that eDoorways is supposed to be targeting consumers on the open web. As such, it is at the mercy of consumer design fads and practices. The Golden rule with consumer sites is that the Simplest Site Wins.

When consumers look at Hunch, GetSatisfaction, and Yahoo Answers, they are more likely to understand the purpose of the site and get into it. When the average consumer sees the current eDoorways homepage (screenshot), they are going to feel overwhelmed.

EDWY should test their site with focus groups in their target market. Put groups in front of Hunch, GetSatisfaction, Yahoo Answers, and eDoorways. Just watch how long it takes the user to get started with each site, how well they succeed at getting their goals accomplished, and interview them after using each tool.

The insight gained from this exercise should be quite valuable. You should be able to score the results and compare that with your site's goals. If they don't align (which I suspect they won't), your options are to redisign the interface or find a new target market that more closely aligns with your site.

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