Tuesday, April 08, 2008

What drives your strategy for web design?

Web design strategies ...

"I read an interesting article on usability and user experience posted recently on this site by Tom Stewart, the Chair of the sub-committee of the International Standards Organisation (ISO), which is responsible for the revision of ISO 13407, the international standard for Human Centred Design.

We are in the process of redesigning our site for a new platform being developed for release later this year, and the aforementioned article got me thinking about the planning for the design of a website.

Judging by the customer journey, purchase path and overall customer experience of many sites I visit, many companies still appear to base the fundamental decisions for the design of their site on their gut feel of how a customer might want to navigate through their site.

They don’t appear to have considered any criteria when developing their wireframes, information architecture and user interface design.

How many companies do you know that do actually invest in research and developing user personas prior to designing their site?

Shouldn’t the user experience and usability of a website be driven by user centered design and this in turn be determined by the needs or tasks the different user groups have to fulfill on the site?

This can be achieved by researching the behaviour of existing users and by developing user personas for the tasks your customers are likely to undertake on your website.

Each persona can be a fictional character representing a set of your users and where possible, should be created after rigorously analysing and categorising the data from user research.

It’s an absolute must to undertake user research prior to the development or redevelopment of your platform and front-end.

Otherwise what do you base your decisions on when it comes to the user interface (UI), information architecture (IA), and the overall user experience?

Sure, web analytics will give you some indication of where you might improve as you’ll be able to see drop off points, and click paths etc.

But this will not provide you with the detailed understanding required to design your site to cater for the needs of a number of different user groups.

According to Webcredible, a usability agency, personas provide powerful (yet quick and simple) guidance for website strategy and planning decisions.

Personas are brought to life and made credible by including personal details (such as a name, age, background and a photo).

They capture the most important information about each user group:

* Goals - What users are trying to achieve, such as tasks they want to perform.
* Behaviour - Online and offline behaviour patterns, helping to identify users' goals.
* Attitudes - Relevant attitudes that predict how users will behave. • Motivations - Why users want to achieve these goals.
* Business objectives - What you ideally want users to do in order to ensure the website is successful.

One of the upshots of this is that features can be prioritised based on how well they address the needs of one or more personas."    (Continued via E-consultancy)    [Usability Resources]

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