Let's start with a warming up exercise: Which of these 2 examples do you think is the best design? A, the airplane cockpit of an A380? Or B, the all-too-familiar Google interface?
Just described 'strategy' to a consultant and thought to share my awesome whiteboard drawing 😉
The 4 questions of defining strategy are:
- Where am I now?
- Where do I want to go?
- How do I get there?
- How do I define success?
The success criteria is crucial. It's the metric for any decision you need to take along the way, it will help you determine which design is 'better'.
Jakob Nielsen outlines in his latest alertbox newsletter (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/search-skills.html) the inability of users to search effectively.
My colleague Neal Dinoff, Esri Usability Lab Manager, summarized the article and outlined Jakob Nielsen's core findings:
- People (even highly educated people) have remarkably poor search skills.
- Once they head down a keyword path, no matter how fruitless, they seldom change their search strategy
- Users will enter search terms into any open text field with no understanding of whether they are searching the whole site, the World Wide Web, or only a discreet section of the site.
- Users are overconfident in the reliability of results.
- Almost no one uses Advanced Search. When they do, they use it incorrectly.
Neal continues to conclude lessons for our search design:
- Don't assume that advanced search will help your website; you might build such features, but people will use them only in exceptional cases.
- Spend the vast majority of your resources on improving regular search (simple search).
- Design for the way the world is, not the way we wish it were. This means accepting search dominance, and trying to help users with poor research skills.
I believe more implications can be deducted:
- Curate (make sense of) content (!!!):
- Aggregate (most relevant in one location)
- Distill (more simplistic)
- Elevate (identify and describe trends/insights)
- Mashup (create new points of view based on multiple sources)
- Every page is a potential landing page, so help user to:
- Locate themselves (titles)
- Provide context (the bigger picture)
- Find the content/functions they were originally looking for
- Navigate further (well thought-through navigation architecture + good links + meaningful footer links)
- Create pages so that they can be found through:
- Search Engine Optimization (metatags, headings, etc.)
- Write in the language of your users, that’s how they will search
What are your Experiences?
- Creating a User Interface That Speaks Your Users’ Language (by Cedric Savarese) - about the challenge of finding a common language - in plain English.
- 37 Productivity Tips for Working From Anywhere (by Sarah Kessler) - there is at least one tip that will help you, I promise.
- The Next Level of Design: Being Unique (by John O’Nolan) - aka: designing with edge, thinking outside the box, "not stopping until you hit that eureka moment".
- Designing the #newtwitter (by @Twitter) - The new #NewTwitter proportions were not left to chance (at least in their narrowest width).
- Understanding Blind Users' Web Accessibility and Usability Problem (by Babu, Rakesh; Singh, Rahul; and Ganesh, Jai) - the authors outline seven stages of action and what they mean from a designers point of view (think checkpoints).
- A Case for Coding Your Wireframes (by Jake Rocheleau) - "Avoid detours by focusing on your main goals." - sounds so easy, right? Have a clear strategy in mind or else you are doomed to fail (delay at the very least).