Recently I took an online design course that discussed different ways of determining what your clients want and need from a website or interface. Of course we all know the basics when it comes to colors, pages and logos, but as I found out there is a much more important and critical stage of the process that will overall make or break the success of the site itself. It’s something so simple but often overlooked.
Basically just “ask” them to actually use the site themselves.
Do they know what they are looking at? Is it easy for them to navigate? Would they be comfortable using the site themselves without looking at the help page first? Does it say what they are trying to project as a company? Before you start adding a lot of bells and whistles make sure that your going in the right direction.
While this might seem obvious, when you are designing a website, this is probably the one thing that gets overlooked the most – observation. Ask others to take a look too. If you actually ask 10 people to look at a website and tell you their thoughts while they are using it, most likely you will get at least 3 different types of feedback from each of the participants. I actually did this experiment with a prototype that I was working on and I was surprised at how the participants responded to certain things. This let me know that although I thought certain things were self explanatory the user did not. Photos that I thought were relevant where not as clearly embraced as I thought they would be and some data was completely useless to the user.
This made me realize that this important step in the design process should not be overlooked or taken lightly. You might have a bruised ego but you have to have this input in order to make successful changes to meet the ultimate goal of the site. You should definitely test your site with as many users as possible so that you can get an unbiased indication as to what your ultimate users are looking for when they land on the clients webpage.