Even though I’m a software guy, I think if I were asked to design a religious-themed wall clock I might steer clear of some of the usability issues I find with the Jesus Christ Carrying Cross Christian Theme Wall Clock parodied below:
What usability issue? Well if I’m a user sitting across the room at 11:23, and possibly at 4:55 and 8:05, I might find it hard to see what time it is because of the dark black lines of the artwork create a dark black background for the thin black arms of the clock.
So what has this got to do with my church or charity website? Glad you asked.
What we want to take away from today’s example is the concept that part of a successful user interface isn’t just design that looks good (not that I find the clock artwork all that inspiring) — but also a design facilitates a positive and productive user experience.
This can be measured in ‘conversion rates,’ that is the rate at which the user successfully uses the website (or clock) to accomplish some item of work or information gathering.
This means we need to avoid design elements get in the way of a web page’s core functionality, otherwise we’re left with the antithesis of conversion – the user abandons the product – often quantified as the ‘bounce rate.‘
To help avoid this common pitfall, I offer this â€œfast fiveâ€ lists of things to remember when designing a webpage:
- You are not your user;
- solve their problems, donâ€™t burden them yours;
- donâ€™t assume all any of your users are idiots;
- engage in user testing â€“ where non-geeks attempt simple, common tasks; and
- when a problem and/or encumbrance by a user is reported â€“ do what it takes to provide the user a clear path to operational/work-flow success.
On that last point, think Amazon.com, the premier example of conversion goals in action. When they hear of something that gets in the userâ€™s way â€“ even if it sounds stupid â€“ they fix their site to accommodate the customer.
I’d recommend doing the same, perhaps starting with some good-old-fashioned hallway testing and moving out from there.