Most people would think that building a good website is straightforward and it was. A few years ago, when the web was still relatively new, it was easy enough to put together a designer and a developer and you could get a reasonable website as the end product.
However, in the modern age of websites, this kind of a websites simply does not cut the mustard. It is of course adequate, but simply feels a little lacking.
There are several websites that I have recently come across that excel in design – they have fantastic design but when it falls down when it comes to usability or functionality. The websites of some graphic design agencies are prime examples of this.
On the other hands, we have highly functional websites with a wide range of features and functionality. The website might even be attractive but fails terribly in terms of usability. sourceforge is a very good example of this. I used to use it a lot a few years ago but its usability has gotten worse in the last few years, not to mention the fact that it seems to have slowed to a crawl. I still use sourceforge now and again to look up pieces of software but I don’t look forward to it.
Then you have the rare gems, that are exceptionally usable and functional. Google is an excellent example of this. Note however, that the design of google in minimal.
Having worked in the web for numerous years and having used more websites than I could possibly count, I strongly feel that the medium that is the web is heavily under-utilised.
Facebook is a good example of some of the good things you can do with web. Things just feel a lot more natural. If you take the news feed, you can hover over an item to see the menu at the top right that lets you set your preferences for that particular item.
Same with your wall, hover over an item on your wall, and you see a menu option, click on it and you get relevant options.
This is a simple and minor thing. However, this brings in the concept of context and I think that context is largely ignored in all applications. However, it should be easier and much more useful to have context sensitive commands / functionality within websites.
Now, If facebook was to take it one step further and allow you to right click anywhere on a news item and then choose one of the options, that would be even better – save me from moving the mouse to the menu.
Another excellent thing Facebook has done is provide the ability to comment on most things that someone does. Social interaction can take a website from zero to hero in an instant. How can you allow your customers / visitors to interact with each other. Even better – Can your website integrate with Facebook and allow your visitors / customers to use the interaction capabilities of Facebook to drive your site further?