How do you know that your website is what your users want to see? I’ve built, literally, hundreds of websites in my career and most of the time the only person I had to please was the client. Recently I started building websites for myself and I’m noticing lots of different trends when I tell people to go on. Things that I think are common sense, aren’t. Things that I though would be easy, are more difficult.
Who are you designing for?
Well the first thing you need to realizing is if you’re designing anything, your thinking like a designer. It may seem easy but this is one of the hardest things to break. I thought I broke it until I showed my wife one of my sites that I was so proud of!
Here’s the conversation:
“Babe, take a look at the new site”
“Oh, it’s nice”
“I know right! Go on it and sign up for a website.”
“How do I sign up?”
What!!!??? Really!? Something that I thought would be so obvious and she was staring at it and had no idea what to do. This was not the first time that happened.
What did I learn?
I’m on computers and the Internet ALL DAY! I know what to look for, I know standard conventions, color theory, usability, I know lots of things that the average “non computer person” doesn’t.
What I don’t know… how “normal” people who aren’t on computers all day react to websites.
I’ve built websites that worked very well, and I’ve also built websites that I thought would be great, but weren’t.
Advice for your next design.
Build it, then ask 5 – 10 people to do something. Ask them to sign up, make a fake purchase, find something. Test is with people that you think may be your audience. Watch and observe how they interact with the website, then make changes. Don’t ever think your design is too good, make the change that works.
Websites that will help.
Yes I am an affiliate of PWDC BUT it is one of the most abstract courses in webdesign and the approach to it. Now your not going to be a professional right off the bat but with some practice and a better understanding of what web design is and how to actually design a website, you’ll be headed in the right direction and well ahead of your competition.
Another site that I’m not an affiliate of but I think it can be one of the most invaluable tools you’ll come accross, is usertesting.com. It works the same exact way I said in this post. Finds a stranger in your audience, gives them a task, records their reactions.