User Centered Design
The design and interface problems cited above will be familiar to every corporate or enterprise Webmaster and to anyone who has had to sit on a Web or intranet committee. The human and technical difficulties are all great reasons for doing nothing, but they ignore the most important element of any Web site: the user. If reasonable, consistent design standards are not adopted, the average user suffers confusion, reduced productivity, and lost opportunity to benefit from the promise of Web information sources. The advantages of consistent graphic design and user interface standards are immediately obvious in a user-centered approach to Web design and clearly transcend the parochial interests of participating departments, groups, and individuals. If the typical user of a public site or corporate intranet sees more confusion than useful information, no one will benefit.
Without clear design standards, your overall enterprise Web presence will evolve as a patchy, confusing set of pages — some well designed, some disastrous, and all mere parts of a dysfunctional system. A lack of design standards also limits Web use by imposing complex design decisions on new users who would like to develop sites; it’s a daunting task to have to develop new graphic design and interface conventions instead of being able to adopt a professionally designed system of corporate intranet standards.