Easiness vs. User Experience

User Experience

Copyright Arto Teräs

When designing a new website or redesigning an existing one, many decisions are made about content, structure, functionality, etc.  Not all of the decisions are made for the right reason. These choices will impact, either positively or negatively, the experience a visitor has to your website.

Most of the decisions made will be based on user experience or easiness.  That is, either it will take more time to execute and result in a positive user experience or it will be easier to execute and will have a poorer user experience.  Sometimes, you can have both.

My experience is that people tend to gravitate to the easier approach.  This is likely because of lack of focus or understanding on user experience.

Some statements that lead to the easier approach rather than one focused on the user experience are:

  • We’ve always done it this way.
  • We don’t have the time or resources.
  • It would be too hard.
  • Management wants it done like this.
  • We don’t know how to do it.

All of these excuses focus on the organization and not the website visitor.  It is absolutely critical that there be a paradigm shift in organizations to focus on the needs and understanding of the end user.  Failure to do this will result in a sub-par product that fails to deliver.

Take for example the web redesign project I am working on at work.  Our current website uses the open source CMS, Joomla.  The easy solution would be to continue to adopt Joomla in the redesign process because it’s familiar.  Rather than taking this approach and focusing on the organization’s needs, we are opting to develop on Drupal.  Among many benefits, Drupal will provide a more intuitive experience for our website visitors.

When you’re involved in any web design project, always be aware of the possible statements that can distract you from the user experience.  I leave you with some great advice I’ve head many times before, ‘put on your external visitor lenses.’

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