Sphinn Doctor

.. and what exactly is a sphinn doctor. I believe it’s pronounced ‘spin doctor’ and for that, a partial definition from Google reads as follows:

In public relations, spin is a usually pejorative term signifying a heavily biased portrayal in one’s own favor of an event or situation that is designed to bring about the most positive result possible.

Since Sphinn is a new social media website launched by the very well-respected SEM guru Danny Sullivan, clearly the above is all a bit over-the-top. However my mind did wander that way when reading another post from my friend Kim Krause Berg entitled SEO with Usability: What The People Want. If anything I would go even farther than Kim. Websites are built to achieve certain goals. For commercial websites that usually means making sales. To do that well, websites must be

  • suitably visible on the web,
  • instinctively attractive when visited,
  • easy to navigate and
  • persuasive in closing the sale.

SEO plays an important part in that but it’s by no means the most important part.

Kim took issue with Sphinn when it appeared since there was no mention of Usability. That has been corrected but it’s instructive to see how it’s been done. This should not be seen as criticism since each of us has our own perspective on the online world. Sphinn clearly is about search engines and the associated marketing implications.

As illustration, the key navigation menu on the Sphinn Home Page includes the following topics in this order:
Google / Yahoo / Microsoft / Search Marketing / Social Media / Online Marketing / Searching / Other
Up front are the major search engines and Online Marketing is towards the end of the parade.

If you then explore the Online Marketing tab, you find the following subjects in this order:
Web Analytics / Contextual Ads / Affiliate Marketing / Display Advertising / Usability / Domaining / Other Online Marketing
Usability tags along after all the ways of making and spending money through advertising.

Perhaps one shouldn’t read too much into this. However unfortunately it so often reflects how much attention is paid to Usability in the website design process. Perhaps if those of us who care keep mentioning it at every opportunity, eventually more people will smell the coffee.

Related: Bell Canada Website Usability

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