You’re sitting on a couch at your friend’s house, an evening of sitting back and chilling ahead of your merry band of friends. One friend speaks up. “I’m bored. Let’s go out! Do something different!” Your other friends agree, and you all pull out your phones looking for inspiration. You come across a website for a new bar in town. “The Bandit’s Inn”. They have drinks, food, and… wait, is that a video game menu? This looks like a cool place. Your friends would definitely like this. You hold out your phone and pipe up, “Hey guys, check this place out…”
So begins an adventure that could lead our potential customers to The Bandit’s Inn, a fictional “nerd” bar theoretically located in the wonderful city of Chicago, IL. There will be drinks named after Arthur Morgan, Harley Quinn, Thor, Triss Merigold, and more. There will be food fit for Kirby. And, as mentioned before, there will be actual video games so patrons can sit back, have a drink, and absolutely slam each other in Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, or help each other through the puzzles of Portal 2, or maybe they’ll run a weekly DND campaign. The possibilities are endless! But to get there, they’re going to need convincing. This is where my little project begins. Throughout these pages you will find the process that I follow to create a website for this bar.
The Story Begins…
Bianca and Rowan are a married couple in their 30s. Both of them have extensive background in the food service industry and have decided to take the leap and create their own bar to run. The two of them are bonafide nerds – they have a DnD group, they cosplay out at ACEN, they’ve attended the earliest possible showing of every Marvel film to date, the list goes on. What they love most about being nerds is the communities that they have built – both in person and online. They want to join their love for all things nerdy with their professional background to create a space where people can come together and be a community of people who share in their passions.
They want a place where friends can get out and play games together, where someone who’s bored for an evening can pop by and hop into someone’s DnD campaign, where people who have never met can come together to discuss the latest theories on the most recent episode of some popular show. So, they’ve built The Bandit’s Inn, and now they need a website so they can share their vision with others, and hope to start building that community they dream of…
All elements (colors, layouts, graphics, etc.) should remain cohesive at all times. Reuse elements whenever possible, but adjust when the content requires it. A user should feel comfortable with the brand, should feel the brand is confident in itself, and should never feel confused due to lack of consistency between elements or pages.
Consistency is one of those things, I feel, that is invisible when it’s done well but frustrating when it isn’t. Consistency eases the burden of learning on the user. I believe it also instills confidence in a brand. When pages or elements are inconsistent, it can make the company look incompetent or uncaring. It’s a little thing, but it goes far.
Users should never feel bombarded by options. Layouts should be simple and easy to read. Information should be easy to find. And content should remain focused on the task at hand.
I initially had these separate, but I think they’re closely related so I put them together. You can create simplicity by remaining focused on the task at hand. When things get complicated, you can easily lose focus as well.
A site like this is advertising a place, so the user isn’t here for the experience the site itself can offer. They’re here to get information about an experience they can have in real time. The less time they spend frustrated trying to understand how the site works, the more confidence they have in the business, and the more likely they are to make the decision to spend their evening – and, perhaps more importantly, their money – there.
The site should be fully responsive. Any user should be able to access any capability or information that is available on any device. Accessibility should also always be taken into account when designing elements. And no user should feel that they would not be welcome to the place of business, whether by race, gender, sexuality, religion, disability, or interest in media.
I also felt like these two are pretty closely related so I put them together here as well. If something is inclusive, it will also be accessible. Something that is not accessible should never be considered inclusive.
“Nerd spaces” have been, in my experience, places that have been open and welcoming to all people. As long as there’s something people enjoy, there will be a place people can come together and share that passion. The site should reflect that openness. If someone comes to the site and has a bad experience (whether because it doesn’t work with the device or the assisted device they have, or because they think it is a place they will not be welcome for any reason), then they will not want to spend their time at the bar. They miss out on the camaraderie they could have by going, and the business loses money on a lost sale. It’s a lose-lose all around.