Thursday, 30 October 2008

I am a user, too!

I think many people forget that they use the Internet. That they are someone else's customers, and can feel quite detached from the site they are producing. So every now and then I take a step back and think 'So, how do I use the Internet?'

When I am booking train tickets, what information do I look for? What puts me off or stops me from booking a ticket? If I am looking for a book to read, where do I do my research? If I am looking for a new TV or information about updating my driver's licence (no, I still haven't updated it with my married name) where do I start? Then turn it all on it's head and ask the same question about your customers.

What don't you want?
I know everyone is different, but many people have similarities too, and starting off with what you know you like is better than trying to guess what others want. If pages and pages of text puts you off, chances are a lot of other people will turn away. If you can't stand flashing images and pop-ups, you're probably not alone. So take a stroll around the internet and see what you don't like - it's a lot easier to spot than the stuff you do like.

What do you want?
Having browsed the World Wide Web you'll probably notice a few websites that are 'ok' or that you tend to return to. They may not be the most impressive looking websites with a real 'WOW!' factor, they may not have a huge amount of functionality - but they do something right. Try to put your finger on what that something is. Is it that you can buy in just one click? Is it because the text is of a good size and is easy to read? Are the images nice? Does the navigation work just as you'd expect it? Make a note of your findings and apply them to your site. How do you think your customers feel when they use your website?

Take a break...
This is a lot to take in and will take some time, you'll probably return to your list a few times over the coming weeks as you get to a new website. The chances are you'll have a longer list of BAD than GOOD as there is a general tendency to moan rather than praise (that's what I have found, at least!) but stick with it and just keep your eyes peeled for the good stuff every now and then.

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