After a client meeting the other day, a light bulb went off in my head. I realized how similar the act of a good user experience on a website is to having a good first meeting with the client.
The following apply to both:
- Make sure the user/client feels comfortable with the environment. With websites, this is about designing the user interface (essentially, the entire design of your website) so that most things are intuitive or there are enough directions that a user can easily find what he or she is looking for. With clients, it means making sure my office is neat, providing refreshments, and generally being open and warm.
- Make sure the user/client is not confused by the information provided. For example, break down some of the more complicated parts of your design or planning process into manageable steps. With the website, make sure you organize and label information in such a way that makes any user easily understand what they will get when they click on that link.
- Don’t make the user or client have to ask too many questions. If you’re doing your job in a client meeting, the client will get most of her basic questions answered without even having to ask (for example, steps to the design process, the timeline, etc). With the website, you want to uphold certain standards or best practices that are commonly understood across the web. For example, most sites have a footer that contains a Contact page, and About page or an FAQs page. If you were, for example, to hide the contact information away under a separate header, it may not be easily found, causing unnecessary confusion.
- Manage the “flow” of the user experience from entry to exit. With client meetings this is a littler easier. I know that we’ll probably start off with introductions, the basic questions about guest size, venue options, likes and dislikes, and then transition to next steps and future meeting planning. With the website, my team and I made sure that a user didn’t land on too many “dead end” pages. This means exactly what it sounds like. A dead end page is a page that is not connected easily to the rest of the site. It leaves you with no more links to click through, so then you’re left with nothing else to do but leave the site. That’s why we incorporated plenty of options for related content, more from an individual blog, or more slideshows or videos.
Overall, I think the thing to remember with both is: Simplicity. There is no need for over-complicating that first client meeting or your web site. If you have a focus or goal in mind, it will be fairly simple to achieve.
I googled it and User Experience on a website can be fairly complex if you get really into it (it even has an intimidating sounding nickname–UX), but I think if you stick to your focus and put yourself in the other’s shoes, you’ll be able to create a fantastic experience for everyone. And just remember, everything is a process. Just because it’s not good today, doesn’t mean it can’t be better tomorrow.
If you want to read more about user experience design, start with this great post from Mashable called 10 Most Common Misconceptions About User Experience Design.
Tell me, what’s the worst user experience you’ve had on a website? What made it bad? What was the best user experience you’ve had on a website?