Join Morten Rand-Hendriksen for an in-depth discussion in this video All the things the end user does not care about, part of Mapping the Modern Web Design Process.
- Let's quickly address a common sticking point in the web design process, technical decisions in relation to the end user. Because web design is a highly technical field, it's easy to get hung up on technical aspects in the decision making process. And because the landscape we are working in, both from a production standpoint and when it comes to how people access our creations, is so fractured, we have to be careful not to become too attached to our own preferences. You need not look further than advertising for computers and mobile devices to see what I'm talking about here.
For whatever reason, we as a society, tend to identify ourselves based on our brand loyalty and choices of electronics' manufacturers. The never ending feud between Windows and Mac users is one example. Android versus iOS is another. But, here's the thing, no matter how much we care about these things, the end users don't. And that's a really important realization. Though you have a preferred CMS, code editor, IDE, design platform, browser, operating system, and mobile device, you have no knowledge nor control over the preferences, or choices, of the end user.
You provide the content, and it's up to the end user to make the choice on how she wants to access that content. While you may love one browser and hate another, the end user is only interested in accessing the content on the site. While you might have opinions about what CMS is better and more user friendly for the site owner, the end user is only interested in accessing the content on the site. While you may think every user should be on the latest computer or mobile device, and anyone accessing the web with technology older than six months is laughably behind on the times, the end user is only interested in accessing the content on the site.
To remedy this tendency and keep yourself grounded in the end user's world, you'll benefit greatly from adopting this simple mantra. My feelings on the end users' choices are irrelevant. I'm here to provide the best possible informational user experience to the end user, regardless of how they choose to access that information. The good thing is there are techniques that will help guide your process and encourage you to stay platform independent. In any web design project, let these two ideals guide you.
First, adopt progressive enhancement. This allows you to provide functional solutions for everyone while still providing cutting edge solutions for those that can support them. Second, the web has no defined size or display medium. The end user will access your sites in the way that suits her the best. Thus, your site should be designed around the content and made accessible to everyone. In this case, the medium is not the message, the message is the message.
So before sitting down to work on our next great project, check your bias at the door and build solutions that work well for everyone.
- Understanding what your users care about
- Creating user personas
- Creating content priority hierarchies
- Testing wireframes and interaction patterns
- Establishing a three-track build process
- Incorporating accessibility principles
- Using content blocks
- Testing and revising your web design
- Optimizing for social media and SEO
- Launching your web design
- Getting feedback from users