1) Being important isn’t important!In the hierarchy I mentioned earlier, the user always believes themselves to be the most important actor in the cast because it is ultimately their money that the client is trying to earn. The client often believes himself to be the most important because he is putting up the money to make the website. And, sadly enough, the designers often believe that they are the most important because without them the website will not be the masterpiece that the client needs. The truth is that it's really the design itself that is most important. This is what connects your client's business with the users. But clients often make ridiculous feature requests, and the designer often tries to impress the customer with how many “cool features” they can build into the site. Did you notice who gets forgotten in all this? That's right – the user!
2) What clients want isn’t always what they needWhen you put the needs of the client ahead of the needs of users, or your own needs ahead of both, the result is often a website that fails to achieve its task (connecting users with your client's business). I've lost count of the number of consultations that went something like this: BOB: …And I want you to make the site in WordPress, and I want a carousel on the home page, and we need to have RSS... ME: Why? BOB: What do you mean “why”? ME: I mean why do you need WordPress? Why do you need a carousel? Why do you need RSS? BOB: Well... doesn't everyone have those things? ME: No, Bob, they don't. Let me explain something. You own a hammer factory. You make four different kinds of hammers. You're not going to be updating the site regularly, your inventory certainly doesn't require a carousel to display it, and it's pretty doubtful anyone will want to subscribe to a feed about hammers. BOB: So what are you saying? ME: You don't need that stuff, Bob. It's dead money. We need to show people your hammers and tell them why your hammers are the best. Bob's problem is that he suffers from copycat syndrome. If everyone else is doing something, he figures he should be doing it too. Sure you could just give him what he wants, but you'll be doing him a greater service by educating him about what his users will want. Users visit sites to find information, or to be entertained. When you visit a supermarket for the first time, do you spend your time admiring the interior of the store or wishing it was easier to find where they keep the liquid soap? Focus on making it easy for the users to find what they are looking for and make that your priority.
Emma Grant is a professional freelance content writer from Ireland. Over the past three years she has travelled the world while running her business from her laptop. You find her at www.florencewritinggale.com
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