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by Zack on June 19, 2009

Is Your Application A Journey or A Destination?

Google search is a journey. You don’t live there, you just pass through on your way to where you really want to go. Google knows their job and gets you through fast. The comforts of home are replaced by speed and efficiency.

The WordPress dashboard is where you live while editing your WordPress blog posts, moderating comments, and administering your blog. It is one of the best and most usable applications on the Internet. wp_dashboard

Compared with Google search the WordPress dashboard has a soft and homey feel. Sure it is neat and organized, but you have room to do some real work. You could really live there. The WordPress dashboard is a destination. You spend a lot of time there.

Every time you make something new you have to start by asking yourself why you’re making it. What is the point? A big part of the answer is figuring out if you are creating a journey or a destination. Google search exists to get you to where you want to go and WordPress dashboard is where you want to end up. Services like Twitter and Facebook get into the most trouble when they can’t decide. Your blog could be either one or the other, but it is tough to be both.

So why does it matter if you’re creating a journey or a destination? Its simple: journeys are fast and destinations are slow. We don’t just love Google because it finds what we are looking for, but because it gets you to your quickly. Add a few more mouse clicks, maybe a menu or two and some more loading time before you get to the page you want and Google becomes a failed business.

However, all the reasons that Google is a great place to pass through make it a terrible place to live. There is no way to customize what you are looking at, no place to store your data, and no chance to make it feel like your own. That is why Google added iGoogle.

A place for your stuff

Destinations must provide is a place for the your stuff. Somewhere you can put something and know it will be there later. WordPress does this in a database and Microsoft Word does it on your hard disk. Either way you need to leave something there if they want you to come back.

Having a place to store stuff is a start, but it isn’t enough. You need a place for your stuff. WordPress doesn’t just save posts, it lets me make my blog look special for me. That level of personalization goes a long way toward making it a destination.

All the little extras

Many of the faults of a journey are the benefits of a destination. Hierarchy, scalability, customizability all make your application a place where users will want to spend more time. They make it feel like a good place to work and be.

Journey or destination is one of the most important decisions you can make for your application. The slow pace of a living space is quite different from the fast pace of a transit system. Make everything fit or you’ll leave impatient users waiting and patient ones leaving.

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