back to twitter icon facebook icon LinkedIn icon

February 23, 2015

Do you know if your site is user-friendly?

What does user-centric design mean?
A user-centric design process means incorporating your users' way of thinking into your website’s user experience and user interface (UX & UI).

User-centered design sprint

UX is how your user feels when using your website. How easily your user finds the information they’re looking for. Is your user frustrated at your site’s organization? Are they pleased at how easy and logical it is to find the information they want?

UI (User Interface) is the actual layout, content, buttons, widgets on your website your users interact with and use.

At an amusement park, the UI is the actual roller coaster you ride. The UX is how you feel when riding the roller coaster.

Why should you care about UX and UI?
Because good UX and UI can lead to conversions. If your website has a goal to convert, investing in a good UX will lead to sales, emails, leads, traffic or any website goal.

"Delightful content" is part of a great UX. As Jared Spool explains, this is giving your user the information they want exactly when they want it. An example he uses of delightful content is Crutchfield’s decision to re-write the manufacturer’s product descriptions for the products Crutchfield sold on their website. They found that their writing a more user-friendly description of the product led to more sales.

Incorporate user-testing in your web design process
Ways that we’ve found lead to delightful content are card sorting, tree testing, and prototyping.

What is card sorting?
Card sorting is giving your target audience a set of tasks (30-50 tasks) you expect them to do on your site. The participants (10-30 participants) organize these tasks into groups, then are asked to name these groups. This becomes your site's tree, or information architecture. This can be referred to as the navigation.

What is tree testing?
Tree testing makes sure the content is organized how your users expect and want it to be. You do this by creating a set of tasks (8-10 tasks). You ask your participants (30-50 per test) to read each task, then indicate where they would expect to find the answer on your site's tree. For example, you might have a task like - you want to send your best friend a birthday card on a greeting card website. Where would you find a funny birthday card for a woman? You would have a simple outline of your site to present to the tester, and watch as they indicated how they would go about finding that card on your site.

What is prototyping, user testing, or usability testing?
Prototyping is when you put the elements of your interface design in front of real people in a way that simulates what they would see on the computer screen. If you use prototyping as a part of your design process, share your experiences in the comments below. Prototypes can be paper or low fidelity versions of your site using a mockup tool like UXPin or even a PowerPoint. Running usability tests with paper prototypes are valuable for any project where user experience is important because:
  • Paper is inexpensive
  • You do not need to learn a software tool if you choose to use paper prototypes
  • Making changes are fast, so fast you can make them during the test session
  • During the tests problems with your design can be identified early which will save you money
  • Also during the tests you can get some feedback on your business idea which can be helpful in determining product market fit
If you choose to create digital prototypes, there are many prototyping software tools available that have pre-built functions and interface elements that will save you time and money in development costs as well as:
  • Potentially save you from spending time and money on a redesign because of poor site organization problems you didn't identify early on
  • You'll get an early glimpse watching users engage with your simulated website to learn how they think and what pains they have you can solve
UXPin,, and Keynote/Powerpoint are a few of our favorites digital prototyping tools

Benefits of a user-centric design process:

  • Reduced development costs
    • Find problems before they’re built into the code
    • Fixing usability problems later costs three times as much compared to getting it right the first time
  • Increased revenue
    • There are many cases of redesigns where user testing and prototyping increased the company’s revenue
      • After the site was redesigned following a user-centric design process, they saw a 41% increase in paid memberships
  • Improved customer effectiveness
    • Since you’re listening to what you customers want, even at a small sample size of 5, your site should be easier for them to use

Jacob Nielsen, a well respected usability guru, performed a study that proposed more than 5 users is a waste of time. His conclusion was that the amount of beneficial data drops off significantly after testing 5 users. And furthermore, running as many small tests with 5 users as you can afford will give you the most useful data on your website's usability gaps. He does state that most websites need a minimum of 15 users to find all the errors. He believes running 3 tests with 5 users is the most efficient way to find the usability errors (and best to fix errors after each test before retesting).

The startup dream plan: 
We’re going to build this thing as fast as we can. We’ll launch and then we’ll learn a lot, adjust, and figure out what we need to do next.

If you learn sooner you save time and reduce risk. The way you learn is bringing in users early and often during the design process.

Jake Knapp has written extensively about his experiences testing design ideas while designing for Google and most recently for Google Ventures, Google's venture capital investment arm. He's even outlined his take on the 'design sprint' by writing articles detailing each day of his 5 day design sprint. Mr. Knapp's writing style is a joy to read on top of being extremely useful.

Have you used a user-centered design process? Do you have process that you have found success using? Please share your thoughts below.

No comments:

Post a Comment