So many times in design meetings, I hear people saying that they want to “wow” the users. They want a design with a real “wow factor”. “Let’s really ‘WOW’ the customers!” they gush with well-intentioned enthusiasm. One time a customer even wanted to name a contest “Wowie” (fortunately for all involved, the contest ultimately got a different name – but seriously…I can’t make this stuff up, folks). When pressed on what makes a design “wow”, most people can rarely answer with any actionable insight. I’d be happy if the phrase was retired. But what should our valued, beloved customers say when they visit our sites? Here are a few I would like to hear in 2014:
1) “That was easy.” It seems so simple, no? Would you rather the users stare slack-jawed at a jumping fray of lights and sounds, with no concept of where to start? Or would you rather they achieve the goal (hint: buying products, finding information) with little fuss?
2) “They get me.” Is there anything worse than going to a site where it’s completely obvious that the people behind it have never “walked a mile” in a users shoes? This means getting out there, folks. Sit with a user, do their jobs alongside them, watch them use your site (or a competitor’s site) and TAKE NOTE – you’ll find that many assumptions you’ve made about the users are dead wrong. And then fix it…one piece at a time.
3) “That was fast.” If there’s anything worse than being misunderstood, it’s wandering around in a wasteland of pointless information. Sometimes, just because you have the information available, doesn’t mean the user needs to see it. All. Right away. And see #2 above – that will give you insight into what information is really required.
4) “I’ll come back next time.” Next time I need your widget, next time I need help, next time I’ve got to have it. Why? Because you made it easy for them, my friends. Easy to find, buy, choose, get, connect, be helped…you did it with an easy-to-use, friendly web site.
5) “I’ll tell my colleagues/friends.” Is there anything more powerful than a recommendation from one person to another? Possibly. And that would be one person telling another person not to ever do business with you. So let’s stay on the sunny side, always on the sunny side. How? Give the customers what they want, and trust me, word will get around.
So let’s all make a New Year’s resolution, shall we? Let’s retire the “wow” factor. Should we still aim high for visual design? Of course we should! Our customers deserve nice things! But while we’re at it, let’s get to work on the other items from our list. Let’s make it fast and easy for our customers. Let’s resolve to tune in to what our customers are saying and doing. Let’s do it together! I’m here to help.