I’m always asked how to explain web site usability and why a site owner should bother investing in user experience design. What would make an impact on users?
Understanding, in-depth, who web site visitors are is a good place to start.
When we use the Web, we agree to an Internet, computer based experience. We may spend so much time with the journey itself that we never reach our destination. User experience design aids and supports findabilty and usability.
Consider what happened when manufacturing replaced people with machines. In doing so, we lost the unseen energy, care and detailed craftsmanship that a skilled human puts into making something. To get a car that has custom work done to it costs a small fortune because people put their sweat and soul into the work. Robots have no soul. Machine-built furniture, cars, food and machine parts are no longer built for the enjoyment and satisfaction of others when mass produced. Even planting fields of wheat, soybeans and corn has been automated. No human fingers touch the dirt when planting seeds.
Site owners are more or less completely unaware of their online customers’ experience or their desires, especially those who buy plug and play templates. They look at the layout and navigation and figure if it takes someone from point A to B, it works. There is no consideration for the user experience itself. People can sense an empty web site space, devoid of any interest in a pleasurable human response. In many instances, the only activity that even matters is whether or not a search engine will find the pages.
A truly usable web site is a fluid, almost living entity. It’s expected to grow, convert traffic to sales, be crawled by search engine bots, be ranked and found in search engines and be talked about. Machines can be programmed to follow certain code to get what they need from web pages. But you and I are feeling, flesh skinned, impressionable people. Our environments and computer models vary, as do our ages and ability to see, hear and think.
We come to the Web knowing it will be a journey. We come knowing that for every action we take on a web site, that same action will likely be handled differently on a different web site with a different design. We pick and choose sites which offer the best user experience.
We are not machines.