This feature was originally written and published for Simply Done Tech Solutions.
As a culture we continue to find more and more of our time swiping, scrolling, clicking, liking, adding; the list goes on and on. Along with this comes the necessity of ensuring that your practice’s digital presence is an authentic extension of what they receive when they visit you in person during their loved one’s time of need.
The term web development often conjures up images of long strings of code and a lingo that sounds more similar to a foreign language. What we typically know is that it creates what we see and use, sometimes we want to scream at it, but it is our best friend when everything goes as planned.
The title of this feature probably had some readers thrown for a loop. I green and saddle broke my first horse while attending Montana State University in Bozeman back in 2000 studying architecture and studio arts. Since this time horses have been a recurring theme throughout my life with experiences in breaking, training, guiding, wrangling, pleasure, equine therapy and even for a short time, shaping cowboy hats.
Obviously comparing a horse to a computer environment is a bit of a stretch in the imagination. But the simile is useful in visually understanding the sensitivity and complexity of the system as a whole. Each requires a unique and holistic approach to be achieved successfully. The horse trainer being the web developer/designer, the horse as the system and ultimately the website user experience, and the rider being any user interested in interacting with your digital presence.
In web development the website and the horse are one in the same. Instead of training, the website is being coded, programmed and designed to perform in a very specific way, when it is asked to do so. Intuitive development allows the designer to be a few steps ahead of the user as to meet their expectations even before they knew that they existed.
Effective and affective user experience occurs at the same time the horse is synced with your movements and responds accordingly to light hands and soft pressure, A small shift in your seat and the placement of your heal directs the body to where you intend to go. You can sit the saddle in the canter and feel the comfortableness in the flow of the entire experience.
There’s a long list of individual items that all must come together seamlessly to ensure that all is understood correctly between the website user and the design of the site itself, or, the horse and rider. Following are some general definitions of some terms and phrases often associated with web development and design.
- Good use of Imagery – The timeless adage remains; a picture is worth a thousand words.
- Strong Content – A picture speaks a thousand words but effective words reinforce and can provide a direct translation. There are 7 billion people on Earth and approximately 650 million active websites. Written communication lies the foundation for what can be identified within an ever-saturated population. The cornerstone for any content is knowing and understanding your intended audience.
- User Interface – What the user sees and the options that they have for various forms of interaction.
- User Experience – What is experienced from the initial interaction with your brand digitally from the ending of the experience.
- Calls to Action – Anything that prompts a user to participate in an event.
- Search Engine Optimization – All of the tiny details that increase your visibility across the primary search engines.
- Clean Code – Code that is easily interpretable by any web developer, browser or bot and can be effectively navigated in its final form and used with feeling no intimidation by even a first-time user.
- Exceeds Current Design Standards/Trends – A horse that looks flashy, has new boots, a shiny coat and well-maintained mane will always give a better ride, right? No, not necessarily, but it makes you want to ride it. Looks can be deceiving but they do provide the initial impression and brand the experience as a whole.
The well-trained horse (proper web development) is intuitive to your actions and is a step ahead of you, while with the shift in the hips back and the saddle with a little pressure on the bit with a soft, “whoa” and your movement comes to a stop. You tell the computer what to do and it naturally syncs with your behavior and vice versa.
It’s always better to be a visionary than trying to keep up with the Joneses. As in riding a horse, the more relaxed you remain, the better the outcome no matter the circumstances. Ultimately, the web is a global public forum to communicate who your organization is, what you do and why that it matters to your consumer.
Define yourself, tell your story accurately and transparently, and strive to make an impression that will last a lifetime.