Over the past few months, in private emails, some smart folks have criticized the design of my LessonIndex.com web site.
It’s a crude, simple layout. Some call it unprofessional, while others suggest that it’s a poor demonstration of my skills. Some of these comments come from people I know and respect, but …
I think they’re wrong.
Web site design should always start with a clear definition of the intended audience and purpose.
- Audience: K-12 classroom English teachers in public schools (but also some private-school teachers and home-school parents).
- Purpose: quickly find relevant and useful lesson-plan resources, for a specific work of literature (usually a novel or memoir).
LessonIndex.com has a very simple layout. The main index page is an alphabetical list of about 300 literature titles:
Each title is a text link to an individual directory page. There is no search box, because teachers can use Ctrl-F to search the page. The entire list of 300 titles is on a single page. (There is also a separate “big” index page which lists 2,800 literature titles — each with its own directory page.)
The directory pages use a very ordinary HTML list structure to display a series of categories, under which individual product titles are shown along with links to vendors who offer the product for sale:
The directory pages include a left-margin navigation menu (repeated several times on larger pages) so teachers can jump straight to a category. Again, all resources for a specific literature title are listed on a single directory page.
Yes, there are lots of “tweaks” I could make so the site would look more “professional,” but I can’t think of many that would make the site any more useful. And a more professional design might even cause some teachers to perceive the site as less trustworthy.
I’d love to hear others’ feedback about the LessonIndex.com web site.