Design for Users
Seems easy enough to do, right? After all, we are users ourselves – we already know what would be intuitive. Right??
Wrong!! I’ve had clients and colleagues that believe they understand the user’s needs perfectly because they are users themselves. This couldn’t be further than the truth. Being close to a product as it is being developed presents a huge bias. It’s necessary to keep actual users involved in the development process whenever possible. As much as we may feel we know our users, we can never make assumptions about how a given product will actually be used by end users. We need to first learn about the users we hope to attract, and then start with design concepts and exploration. Before development.
Another misconception is that if a user doesn’t understand how to use your website, she will "get the hang of it". Perhaps this was true in the very early days of the Internet, when users did not have an array of sites to choose from. But it’s well known now that a successful website is one that helps users get things done quickly – without making them try to figure things out. As Steve Krug would say, don’t make them think! Websites that are designed to match their users’ expectations are seamless, effortless, and fun to use. Why would (or should) a user sit in frustration trying to accomplish a task on a poorly designed site when a simple Google search will reveal an easier way to get it done?
As a User Experience Designer, I’m passionate about improving user experience. It’s my goal to think through each interaction I design, and do so from a potential user’s perspective. Because people change over time, and cultural norms change, user research is an endless learning process; it is never "done". If a digital presence is to stay relevant, its user experience must be revisited periodically and adapted to match real user needs.
Design for users. Not a quick and easy task, but so worth the effort!