Updating a website is a lot like renovating your family home. Sure it's going to be an improvement, but you also have anxieties about where the family photos will go, and what to do with all those sentimental knickknacks you've accumulated over the years.
But before you end up as a basket case on a serial hoarders show, it's always a good idea to step back, assess what's important, and of course be open to new things.
Just like you need an architect to draw the plans before you can build them, eliciting the services of a UX team before you start developing is really important.
It's a golden opportunity to turn a revamp into something that serves more than just an aesthetic purpose. So here is a little insight into what a digital architect can bring to your table:Intuitive design
It's obvious that the TV shouldn't be in the bathroom (this isn't Vegas), but really what it means is that things should be where the user expects.
This is a big one because logic doesn't always equal intuition.
In order for a digital touch point to truly be intuitive, its design must be informed by the user. This can't be achieved by a once-off questionnaire but rather continuous hands on usability testing from the ground up.
What a user experience professional can do is take early, high level feedback from users and turn it into smart recommendations. This ensures that by the time development happens, your site doesn't just look good, but it actually works for users.Accessibility
Do all the doors in your house have handles, because there might be a room to suit every end and taste but what if you can't get in?
When it comes to your website, or any digital touch point for that matter, being able to offer your user a range of different features as well as social and self service capabilities is very important. Just don't make the mistake of putting it in an area of your website that is so obscure and inaccessible that nobody ever uses it.
Now that might seem really easy to do, but during the course of development when add-ons and afterthoughts are thrown into the mix, you might end up with a website that looks a lot more muddled than you initially planned, and this leads to parts of it just being avoided completely.
This is where a user experience professional is key (excuse the pun). By using industry best practices, as well as user research, it's part of their job to make everything accessible. That means where content is located, as well as the content itself, it all has to fit together and make sense.Absolutely Zero Clutter
It's hard to be objective, especially when your company's future is at stake, so it's only natural to start hoarding features a bit.
You think everything is important, everything deserves first page, and that the user would want to see all of it, all at once - unfortunately they don't.
One of the many responsibilities of a UX consultant is to be brutally honest and pragmatic in their approach. Using insight and opinions from real users, they must assess what needs to be there and what is causing confusion or is just plain unnecessary.
In this case you might have to toss out a section or two, but you can be guaranteed of two very important things - simplicity and functionality.But then again...
A lot of people do attempt to fix their own plumbing or lay their own bricks, and some actually do get it right - emphasis on the some though. If you aren't too keen on redevelopment costs though, it may be a good idea to call in the professionals.
Posted on 11 Feb 2014 09:21