Friday Mar 23, 2007

Consistent Format: boring but important

OneStop is primarily a techie field focused site, and one consistent attribute of of our Systems Engineers is that they are busy. People generally don't have the time or the inclination to learn another tool or grok a new format. Many of our sites internally are quite different. There isn't any consistency in where, for example, a presentation or a white paper might be found. We find that OneStop users mostly like to forgo various web cleverness such as gadgets and personal page layout in favor of consistency of content and navigation.

The formula that is working for us is to preface each page with a Short Description (elevator pitch), a list of What Is New on the page, followed with a more lengthy Where To Start  section. Have you ever found it frustrating to locate the new information, or what has changed on a product information page? You often find lots of gifs which might or might not be current. A OneStop convention is to list each notable page change in the What Is New section, accompanied by a date.

Each page has up to 17 sections, in the same order. The sections are areas that are of particular interest to SEs. I'm certain there isn't a single user or author that can spew back the entire list, but people get a feel for what to expect from a OneStop page, and know that they can scan the navigation bar to find it. 
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