Designing a website or mobile app – largely an act of faith?

Even though as creative jug-heads we may have certain conviction on how users will receive our design work backed by most extensive research it can still leave big gaps in our knowledge. As digital students we should try fill in those gaps with standard practices, sensibilities and values.



Put yourself in their shoes

Create an account in order to get information or buy a product. Will you?  Ads screaming in your face or feeling tricked?


If you don’t like that way, we can safely guess how our own users will feel when we try to pull those kinds of stunts on them.

Nothing but the Truth Shall Set You Free

Traffic generated? Offerings that gets the most/ lest traffic? Drop-off rates at each step along a process? Items in shopping cart? Business rules? How often are gift cards used? How often do auction bidders fail to pay? … the more solid my command of the facts, the better our recommendations will be and the more compellingly we can make the case to adjust them.

Be Helpful

A site or app that expects frequent visits from same user must be a means to their ends, not just a means of making money for ourselves. Being helpful means things like:

  • accepting numbers and dates in whatever format the user enters them;
  • providing standard translations of the meaningless sizes that each clothing manufacturer dreams up;
  • discarding a user’s credit card information as a security measure when they request a password reset;
  • automatically bringing up the numbers keyboard (rather than the alpha keyboard) in an app when the user taps a number-entry field; and
  • identifying 10 most common search terms and figuring out how the UI can eliminate the need to search for them.


Sites today are littered with sharing buttons. Fostering communities however within the walls website can pay tremendous dividends and be one of the most impactful dimensions of the overall user experience. Commercial websites that cultivate a community within their user experience can develop relationships with consumers that go beyond the transactional and reach into the realm of emotion and identity—far more powerful and compelling levels of interaction.

Be flexible, be trendy

Today’s cool is tomorrow’s boring. Is this widget/screen/app/site genuinely useful toward some purpose that matters to users? Is it grounded in an accurate understanding of their needs and behavior? If so, then coolness and visual brilliance add a wonderful dimension to it. If not, no amount of razzle-dazzle will save it for long.

Be Truthful

Truth is not just a matter of avoiding deceit. Credibility is quickly lost and rarely regained. A site or app must work harder to draw in a constant stream of new users. Remember …

  • making sure content is factually accurate
  • links, buttons and icons should redirect to rightful destinations
  • giving prices and shipping costs up front;
  • clearly articulating each error message, the problem and what the user needs to do

Every corner you cut is an opportunity to confuse, irritate, and lose users. Sure, you may not have time to confirm your assumptions or get that extra day of code written. But recognizing your users’ instincts toward, and need for, interaction can play a critical role in providing a meaningful user experience. Driving in to insights & tapping into satisfying needs deeper than merely avoiding pain points and providing smooth transactions can result in a reward for websites which is a higher level of stickiness and loyalty for the long haul.

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