Posts tagged "ux"

Web Design: Clarity is More Important than Persuasion

The most important thing a webpage can do is be crystal clear about exactly what you can do on that webpage.

The best word to describe people when they are on the Web is "impatient." They are particularly impatient when they arrive at your website for the first time. They are asking themselves the essential question: "Is this a website I can actually do something on quickly and easily or is it just marketing?"

I had heard the following phrase from customers many times: "This is just marketing. I don't have time for this." On the Web, people are developing banner ad blindness, but they are also developing marketing-speak and communication-spin blindness. They see marketing as stuff that gets in the way, content that is annoying and unnecessary.

 

MarketingExperiments (site) is a really excellent research organization. It recently stated that the first seven seconds a person spends on your website are crucial to success. "Millions of dollars are won or lost in these first few moments a visitor spends on your site," it writes. It goes on to state that everything it has learned about website optimization can be summarized by these three words:

Clarity Trumps Persuasion

According to MarketingExperiments, there are three essential questions all pages must answer:

  1. Where Am I?
  2. What Can I Do Here?
  3. Why Should I Do It?

"The chief enemy of forward momentum is confusion," Marketing Experiments states. "One of the ways to overcome this inherent confusion is to hit the Back button." The Back button is to a customer what a soother is to a baby. It's very comforting to hit that Back button and get away from all that confusion.

""Clarity" tops the list of the key principles of design thinking identified by the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council," Alice Rawsthorn writes for the New York Times in January 2010. Rawsthorn references John Maeda and his concept of "thoughtful reduction".

The Web reflects a shift to service and, more particularly, a shift to self-service. To succeed in self-service you need a genuine understanding of and relationship with your customer. And you must also strive to give them a fast, simple experience.

I've just spent the last week in Seattle, the home of Starbucks. I've been told that Starbucks are investing millions in replacing their espresso machines. These machines are in perfect working order, so why are they replacing them? They want machines that are not as high, so that the server and the customer can more easily see and interact with each other.

The customer remains invisible to most web teams and that is the single greatest reason so many websites under perform. Understanding, relating to and developing empathy for your customer is one of the greatest drivers of clarity in communication and design. A lack of understanding of customers and a focus on the internal needs of the organization is at the root of most confusing, complex and verbose websites.

Get to truly know your customers and you are on the road to clarity.

Search Patterns - New from O'Reilly - Design for Discovery

As we all drown in today's unparalleled access to mostly disorganized information, the holy grail for many has become to perfect search. O'Reilly Media (site) has released a new book to help those following this path.

Search Patterns

The book Search Patterns is designed to help the reader:

  • Discover a search pattern language that embraces user psychology and behavior, information architecture, interaction design and emerging technology
  • Boost enterprise efficiency and e-commerce sales
  • Enable mobile users to achieve goals, complete tasks and find what they need
  • Drive design innovation for search interfaces and applications

Expected pattern design issues such as auto-complete, best first and faceted navigation are included, but the book aims to move past these concepts as well and get you thinking about "the future of discovery."

The Authors

Search Patterns was written by Peter Morville, one of the fathers of the field of Information Architecture, and Jeffery Callender, Vice President and Design Director of Q LTD.

Together, these authors hope to help the search and discovery industry advance faster. "Our understanding of what does and doesn't work is advancing rapidly," says Morville. "Yet we're often forced to use clumsy search interfaces that should never have escaped the 1990s. Users are invited to speak Boolean and then wait patiently for irrelevant results."

Morville states that this problem exists because the expertise required to build truly great search crosses multiple disciplines, and the best design patterns are only the best for their particular context. "Our book," he says, "aims to bridge these gaps and help design teams to make search better through incremental improvement and radical innovation."

Forrester: Most U.S. Internet Consumers Using Multiple Channels

Your website is your primary communication tool, so you give it plenty of love. However, research says this is not sufficient as more than 70% of U.S. Internet consumers are now using multiple channels.

Examples include:

  • Call centers
  • Direct mail
  • Mobile apps and interfaces
  • Social networks
  • In-store displays

Today's ruthless consumers expect a seamless cross-channel experience. Unfortunately, consumers often report that their cross-channel experience are poor — A.K.A., you have work to do.

With this problem in mind Forrester Research is teaming with CoreMedia this Thursday at 11am EST/4pm GMT to present a webinar titled: The Role Of WCM In Cross-Channel Customer Relations.

Forrester analyst Tim Walters says you can maximize your online presence to create the optimal cross-channel user experience. And further, that your web content management system can play a key role in the process.

If you're responsible for optimizing your customers' cross-channel experience this webinar may be just what you need. Skip on over and register here.

5 Ways Web Design Focuses on Usability

TechRadar recently delivered what they and top experts consider to be key trends for the next 12 months in web design. At the core, is an increased focus on usability. Smashing Magazine sought to promote better user experiences with storytelling, encouraging designers to capitalize on users' emotions. The bottom line: by focusing on usability, a better website can be built.

Plagued by a turbulent economic outlook, web designers are finding it in their best interest and those of their clients to scale back on building micro-sites and head-to-toe redesigns, and focus more on improving the overall usability of their websites.

According to TechRadar, the advances the industry has provided have also enabled "clients to take advantage of the web's efficiency and modularity" perhaps making usability and functionality all the more important because they now know what to expect. 

As well, better usability can help web designers assert their authority about how the web is used and how it can translate into revenue and brand loyalty for companies. But usability, as we often find, just makes sense.

1. Functionality

In 2010, functionality incorporates elements of common sense and viability. Integrating third-party enhancements into a site are often more user-intuitive and free, saving designers lots of time and money spent recreating the wheel.

Video and photos are best to be showcased using well-known distribution channels like Flickr and YouTube, while Twitter and other social media APIs can be integrated within sites.

2. Interaction

While seemingly complex, website interactivity can actually simplify user interfaces. Richer interfaces that use Flash are diminishing their threat, being replaced, instead by JavaScript.

Meaningless (and cumbersome) visual animation will be replaced by beautiful interaction that works to promote specific user engagement behaviors. Pretty and functional interactive displays will be essential to the user experience.

3. Dynamic Content

Smashing Magazine says,

storytelling and user experience have common elements — like planning, research, and content creation — that can be utilized for effectively developing an experience.

Putting a face with a name essentially helps users relate to personas and makes them want to contribute to the story, either helping to shape it with their own words or how they choose to share it with others.

Blending emotions with design can help steer users in the direction appropriate for your website, ultimately improving functionality and customization.

4. Web Standards

In the last few months, we've covered the measures taken by the W3C on how to handle inaccessible websites, CSS3, HTML 5 and the semantic web, among others. As designers and developers adapt to changing web standards, they must also be mindful of anyone using browsers that don't support cutting-edge technologies.

Web standards don't just target traditional websites, but those that are mobile-based, as well. In the interest of time, money and accessibility, creating mobile-specific sites may be less important than designing better accessible websites altogether.

5. Expanding Skill Sets

Whether it's designing apps for the iPhone or working with open source technologies, designers and developers alike need to get skilled. Customers are already demanding cutting edge applications and enhancements. Being able to make educated decisions about designs that promote new technologies, web standards and good usability will be a challenge, but ignoring it all together, won't make them less relevant.

Overall what design and usability intend to do for websites in 2010 is very similar to what the underlying goal of any website should be: making information easy to find, navigate and engage.