I spent some time evaluating the web sites of some Milwaukee design firms, and I’ve gotta say, I was sadly disappointed. I do not want to name names, because I’m going to discuss actual trends rather than specific issues. (Plus, I know people at many of these companies, and to be fair, I should disclose that I do work for at least two design firms in the area.)
The overall trends I saw were the following:
- Inability to print pages/content
- Inability to resize or select text
- Inability to open multiple windows/tabs due to navigation using Flash
- Music playing on page load (with no way to stop it)
- Text as an image, or within Flash, which does not get indexed by search engines
Overall, many of the problems of poor usability were caused by Flash. (I know, I have a history of being somewhat anti-Flash, but so often Flash is anti-usability, so it all works out.) Many of the sites I evaluated had just one or two results in Google, which is probably not ideal for companies that want potential clients to find them.
To be fair, I know many design firms end up not overhauling their sites for a long time because they are too busy doing client work, but honestly, most of them looked like graphic or visual designers with no background in usability designed them.
Milwaukee design firms, it may be time for a reboot…