We have all had the experience of trying to follow directions, fill out a form, or order online and we sit back and say out of frustration, “who designed this”. It feels like someone has gone out of their way to make the task as complicated as possible and given no thought to what it will be like to be a first-timer. There is a lesson here and that is as we design something our customers will follow to remember these experiences and not repeat them.
The tendency during the development stage is the person writing software or documentation gets so familiar with it they lose sight of how it will look work for the end-user. As the originator spends time with the project, it makes perfect sense to them. But for the one who sees it for the first time, it’s confusing.
To prevent this over-complication syndrome from hijacking your work, step back from the project and look through the eyes of someone seeing it for the first time. For example, a store layout. Yes, there are strategies to follow to encourage impulse buying. Put the donuts by the checkout stand and I’m in trouble. However, there have been times I’ve become so frustrated trying to find something that I’ve given up and left the store. I probably won’t come back because walking up and down all the aisles is not a good use of time for me. As you are designing or reorganizing think it through. Are your highest volume products easily findable? Does the arrangement make sense and related products close to each other? Is the signage clear?
A website is another good example? You don’t want people wandering around the site otherwise they will leave it very quickly too. The length of time a user will search before moving on is measured in seconds. Beware that there isn’t too much marketing upfront distracting from where to purchase. Key links like product information, company background, related products, or how to order should be prominent.
Another good practice is to test your design by creating a User Acceptance Testing (UAT) team. Gather individuals not familiar with your store, website, or process and run them through scenarios. Take their feedback and adjust accordingly. Remember, the key learning here is to keep it simple.
Ted Saul is a business coach living in Murrieta that assists with Business Plans and Project Management. He earned his MBA from Regis University along with a master’s degree in project management. Ted can be reached on LinkedIn or by emailing TedSaulbiz@gmail.com.