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Five easy steps to selling carrots to hungry rabbits

Occasionally people accuse this column of grumpiness about perfectly innocent architectural websites. It's not exactly untrue - especially when there's good cause to tear one's hair over sites that are innocent of the everyday basics of communications.

It's not just this column's peculiar prejudices at work. Note Guy Clapperton in a recent Guardian piece, 'Trap New Business in Your Web'. He mused: 'Think of the number of sites you've seen that start off with a picture of the MD and a mission statement.

Then ask yourself how many products you've bought because the head honcho's a looker and they promise to deliver what you've paid for. Unless you're mightily peculiar, the answer is probably none.' He went on: 'Forget any idea of your customers being sophisticated people with loads of time to understand your site regard them as starving rabbits looking for carrots consider who is most likely to buy and offer them the biggest carrot you have.'

Steady on. Customers, carrots, you say? We're professionals. Yes, but you are also construction professionals who now pitch for work frequently via tender bids like everybody else in the industry, and who would probably find helpful an inkling of the basics of selling your sizzle successfully.

Unless the purpose of your site is to provide entertainment or to impress your peers with the number of special Java effects your designer has nicked from magazine cover disks, here are a few basics:

The first is to commit to memory the mantra, 'Just because you can, it doesn't mean you have to'.

The second is Fast. Faster. Fantastic!

Third, keep it simple. Keep it brief.

Aught else will come to grief.

Fourth, sites are for skimming, books for reading.

And finally, usability, content and delight - the greatest of these is usability.

Here endeth the lesson.

sutherland. lyall@btinternet. com

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