“Simpler” is usually one of the most common descriptions used when discussing a redesign. And “easier-to-use” is a close second.
Sound familiar? They should. These conventional intentions are worthy end goals and evident in many successful experiences we have online. Unfortunately, I’ve found that most redesign projects struggle to stick to criteria that have the greatest impact on simplification and ease of use.
To ensure you end up with a site that meets these goals, spending more time defining your intentions—and how to measure them—goes a long way. If you don’t, you open yourself up for a messy end product that underperforms. Here are some typical culprits that prevent a successful redesign:
- Expectations: making things simple can be surprisingly hard, frustrate the impatient, and undermine strategic decision making.
- “Feature-itis:” the phenomena of piling on features to fend off misguided fears of being perceived as simplistic. In my experience, more features rarely makes for a better experience. The right features make it easier to use, while too many make it harder.
- Ego: individual tastes trumping facts can undermine decision making that’s useful for everyone else.
- “BS:” contradicting input, unnecessary politicking, lack of specificity, and unrealistic project management (among other compromises) will usurp your project.
These derailing aspects will undermine the process for building a refined user experience, creating simplicity, and determining your ultimate performance factors.
Setting the right criteria begins with debunking some assumptions. Designing Websites is not the same as developing an ad campaign or designing spreads for a brochure. The criteria for simple and easy-to-use Websites are experiential factors—not just creative, visual, or technical factors alone. And success takes leadership that understands.
You’ve all heard the phrase different answers depend on different questions, right?
Successful advertising campaigns answer the question: What perception do you want the audience to have when they see this?
Successful graphic design answers: What do you want the audience to think when they see this?
Successful Web design answers: What do you want the audience to do when they see this?
Things that are more interesting get read. Things that are more interesting to look at get noticed. Things that are easier to use get done.
How many times has a new internal application within your organization, like time tracking, only made it harder to do what you wanted to do? Easier-to-use means it’s more enjoyable to use, less invasive, more intuitive, quicker, and yields what it’s designed to do. Usability of applications or Website is not hard to measure if you build it into your project plan and initial definition for success.
Design, as a visual art, is more difficult to measure. However, the results design yields can be quite apparent when you frame the right expectations and measurements up front.
What’s your current site yielding? Is it really simple and easy to use for your potential customers? Can it be improved to yield greater returns? My bet is yes. There isn’t a business site, e-commerce site, registration path, or call to action that wouldn’t benefit from being looked at, measured, tested, and ultimately made simpler to achieve greater results.