Building Better Web Sites For a Better World

This week was powerful. It was the end of my son’s football season and I was so impressed with him that for two days I was in deep thought, even lying awake at night with the realization that my 14 year old son had become my hero. When everything that could go wrong, did, he scored the most amazing touchdown in the last 2 minutes of one of the games that had all the parents on their feet. And all he did was to show his heart.

Passion has always been my guiding light. It’s an odd light because others don’t always see it, when you know darned well it’s right there. This week I struggled to come to a decision about where I’d go with my usability work. Was I any good at this? Is there something else I can offer? How does usability work improve life for anyone? The answers came in this week’s discussions in several places about user personas, as well as positive feedback on work I had done for someone new.

User personas are about improving an experience for someone other than yourself. My light flickered and things felt right again.

Last night I presented a rough outline of a plan for the future of Cre8asiteforums to my friend and Co-Administrator, Bill Slawski, that I’d struggled and agonized over for months. The forums are five years old and its earlier incarnation was formed in 1998. I’m burned out one minute and energized the next. Is this normal? Where is the forums administrators support group?

It was funny to watch Bill read my official 4 page brain dump and see him making faces. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking and that drove me nuts. We had a meeting, surrounded by friends, one of my other moderators, Li Evans, and my husband, Eric. It was the moment where I needed to make a personal commitment to move forward and ask Bill if he was ready to stick it out with me a little longer. He said yes.

In a social media environment, what can we do to make our forums thrive and contribute value? For Bill and I, the answer is different because we’re different in how we think a forums should be run and what they’re for. Next week I’ll announce the first part in our projected plan to take the forums into a new direction, with an emphasis on contributing ways to support those who believe in building better web sites for a better world.

I don’t think it was any accident I was given the example of my son, Stefan, and his approach to his life in sports.

He’s very committed, even when he’s in pain. If the other team has 3 guys on him, he fights them off with one arm. When they pile up on him, the ball doesn’t leave his grip. When they’re losing, he still believes in himself. When their Quarterback was out on an injury and the offensive line lost its will, he did what Team Captains do. He tried to offer encouragement and instructions on what to do next, even though he was angry on the inside. In a sad losing game with no score for his team, he “chopped” his way down the center, for the last two minutes of the game and by brute force, got the damned touchdown.

When they were squashed in their last game of the season by an undefeated team (Stefan’s team was undefeated last year), his Dad and I walked out to meet him on the field afterwards to check on his condition. Before we could even reach him, a group of members from the opposing team and four guys from the High School Freshman team, where he’ll play next year, came out on the field, walked up to him and shook his hand.

Respect is something you earn.

Here are my notable article picks for the week, with my thanks to those who inspire me:

Designing for Nonprofits: User Experience Professionals Can Make a Difference in Society

We all find ourselves looking in the mirror at one time or another and asking ourselves if we’re doing all we can for the good of society. What’s it all for?

Those of us in the user experience (UX) profession can actually do something about it. As information architects, interaction designers, usability consultants, and developers, we don’t have to change our careers to do something good for society.

Balancing Usability and Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is the process of designing a Web strategy so that search engine spiders will get the best picture of the Web site that they can. Usability is the process of designing a Web strategy so that visitors will be satisfied with their experience.

Design Engineering: The Next Step

Interaction design determines who the users are, what goals they are trying to achieve, and then creates a tangible, visible plan for how the product will look and behave to get those users to achieve those goals. Over the last few years, more and more companies have adopted interaction design methods. They have flight plans. Why, then, are so many organizations still repeatedly visited by those three ugly horsemen of software apocalypse?

My friends at DT are in the news (again) – Digital Telepathy Helps You Build Your Web 2.0 Startup

The concept is simple: Digital Telepathy offers three design my business options with varying service levels based on the length of each plan. The 15 day plan provides a wannabe startup with market research, strategic alignment, scalable revenue model, instruction manual for project completion and a concept summary delivered as a “Biz in a Box”.

This was a no-brainer for a “bookaholic” like me – Top 5 social web sites for book lovers

Search Engine Land’s Secrets : Mining SearchCap. Perfect for those who equate statistics to Fruit Loops. I am number 57.

Building a Data-Backed Persona is a detailed, well written article on a topic that’s on steroids.

Video presentation by Jared Spool – Delight by Functionality

And finally, Green Communities and Social Networks. Bill hit many of us in a good place with this list, giving us some new ideas and ways to meet others who dream.

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6 thoughts on “Building Better Web Sites For a Better World”

  1. What an amazing post, Kim!! I loved how you compared your challenges to your son’s challenges. I could feel how proud you are of your son in your writing.

    Good luck in what ever direction you decide to take your forums. You have a great support around you and I’m sure whatever direction you decide to take it will be amazing. With that said, your son has amazing support all around him and it sounds like whatever direction he goes will be amazing as well. :-)

    Oh God, you can tell I’m a mommy… I got kind of mushy. Sorry, couldn’t help myself. I just loved your post!!

    Shana

  2. That’s okay (about being mushy). I was getting that way while writing it and kept editing it down, so as not to be completely and totally pathetic :)

    As for Stefan, he had a difficult start (emotionally and academically) but always had the athletic abilities. With tons of encouragement and support from family and esp. his school teachers, he’s now getting excellent grades and has his anger under control (he had anger management issues as a kid.) So that’s why I (all of us here, really) are so happy for him. He’s absolute proof that we can always improve and shine.

    I also don’t think it’s any accident his older sister wants to work with kids and his younger brother has a physical issue preventing him from playing sports, other than soccer. It fascinates me when I look at how it’s all playing out and how we have a little bit of everything here, in one house!

  3. Exciting times ahead, Kim. I’m looking forward to exploring some of the things that you outlined, and the things that we discussed this week.

    Great post. Spirit, perseverence, and enthusiasm are so underrated in the business world, and in sports, but they are often the difference between success and failure.

  4. There is nothing as awesome as those who continue producing well to the very end. Like Stefan. Like you.

    What with family, business, forum, et al, fatigue is to be expected. The past decade or so of driving yourself ‘pedal to the metal’ would tire even WonderWoman. And she didn’t have children! :)

    To have Eric, Bill, and Li sounds like one high powered support group. I will add my little ‘Kim Kim, Rah Rah, Kim Kim, Sis Boom Bah’ cheer (I even got up from the computer and jumped up and down while shouting – sorry, sans pompoms) from out here on the wet coast.

    Called the Doc for some anti-anxiety meds to get me through to the ‘new improved’ announcement but he said suffering is good for what ails me! So I will get in some ale.

    Hugs and best wishes.

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