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On Record 11/01/2001
Kate O'Sullivan
Inc Magazine

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What Matters Most

Clement Mok is a renowned independent design and business consultant. According to Mok, as the Internet shakeout continues, smart companies are starting to refocus their Web sites by getting back to basics.

Inc: What do you think about the state of Web design these days?

Mok: People want to optimize their existing investment. Certain features and functionality are no longer worth maintaining and so they get eliminated. So sites are actually clearer and more usable than they were a year ago.

Inc: Do you think Web sites are better designed than they were in the past?

Mok: Better is relative. Web sites are more focused and simplified and more integrated into the overall business strategy. However, on the visual design side certain things have just gotten more pedestrian. It's partly because there's a limited amount of money, so the effort is more focused on maintenance. That means you don't have a lot of innovation. Striking that balance between design and functionality is what's going to be so important as we move forward.

Inc: What are the most important elements of a well-designed Web site?

Mok: Usefulness. And usability. Does the interface allow the user full control? And desirability. Does it engage beyond its initial use? What are the hooks that will keep you wanting to reengage? Is it the brand, the editorial voice, or the visual appeal? A great Web site provides a balance among those attributes.

Inc: What are the critical things to do when designing a site?

Mok: Set realistic expectations and watch out for "feature creep." You need to consider the market and the business every time you have a new feature. If what you want to add is so important and you have limited development resources and dollars, what are the implications? What should you give up? It's almost like if you add one new feature, you should probably delete or delay another one.

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