Coding Horror

programming and human factors

an Incomplete Guide to Building a Web Site that Works

Seth Godin's Incomplete Guide to Building a Web Site that Works (6mb PDF) is a great reminder of how to build a popular website without becoming a marketing weasel in the process:

Big Picture #1:
A Web site must do at least one of two things, but probably both:

  • Turn a stranger into a friend, and a friend into a customer.
  • Talk in a tone of voice that persuades people to believe the story you're telling.

Big Picture #2:
A Web site can cause only four things to happen in the moments after someone sees it:

  • She clicks and goes somewhere else you want her to go.
  • She clicks and gives you permission to follow up by email or phone.
  • She clicks and buys something.
  • She tells a friend, either by clicking or by blogging or phoning or talking.

That's it.

If your site is attempting to do more than this, you're wasting time and money and, more important, focus.

If you don't have a PDF reader already, I highly recommend Foxit Reader. It's a great, ultra-lightweight alternative to the bloated, naggy Acrobat Reader.

Written by Jeff Atwood

Indoor enthusiast. Co-founder of Stack Overflow and Discourse. Disclaimer: I have no idea what I'm talking about. Find me here: