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Domain baskets

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For those of you who know I am working on a mega-network of interlinked domains for my industry, this is a good piece from Clickz that reflects how domain baskets can be used to enhance user experience.

Linking: To the Brand Or to Bewilderment?

Have you ever walked around an airport hopelessly searching for something? At every corner, 10 signs point you in every conceivable direction. None are of any use in finding your destination.

An alternative (which I've only encountered a couple of times -- but what a wonderful feeling when it happens!) is The Well-Signed Scenario. The environment feels good because it not only allows me to find my destination in a hurry but it also imparts a feeling of control. Every time I look about for helpful signage, there it is. When this occurs, it seems the planners must have anticipated my needs before I did.

These two scenarios apply to my ongoing tests of Web sites. For some reason, the intuitive element of sites seems to diminish in proportion to the amount of information sites attempts to expose. Desperate to tell the visitor everything, preferably all at once, the site instead drowns in chaos.

In one of her articles, Pamela Parker mentions a study on the choice of chocolate. It reveals that the fewer choices available, the easier it is to decide. Often, the result of greater decision-making comfort is more people actually make a choice. Conversely, when a plethora of choices dazzles an individual the result is more likely to be the confused person makes no choice at all.

Some sites hyperlink every 10th word. At first glance, you'd think this is good and thorough service. It isn't necessarily the case. Here's why:

Ton of links can deflect visitors from their original purpose. Distracted from their mission, they quit the visit.

What is it you want to achieve with loads of hyperlinks throughout your copy? Good service? Remember the chocolate. Pick the best link options and predict what your visitors will do.

You can link left, right, and center -- but have you checked your links to ascertain what the visitor will encounter? Will all the links increase your visitor's satisfaction rate or increase sales? If you're not linking for an advantageous reason, forget it.
Consider the airport again. There are always tons of signs, but I don't think I've ever been in a terminal with perfect signage. The worst examples confuse the traveler with an overwhelming plethora of signs pointing to everything at once.

What does all this have to do with branding? The total experience is what forms a brand's impression on the consumer. If I feel comfortable about my visit to a site, if I feel the site seemed to understand what I was looking for, if I feel (as a result) some affinity with the brand, then the site's done well. I guess that's what branding's all about.
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I found some {LINK TO OFFENSIVE CONTENT REMOVED} slashdot articles on the subject quite entertaining.

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