The #1 piece of advice that I give clients when thinking about a new website design is this: put yourself in the shoes of the customer, someone who has no relation to your company. They don’t care about you, they want a service/product and they want it quickly and efficiently.
This is a hard pill to swallow for some, the thought that customers don’t really care about that mission statement that you spent a whole two-day retreat working on, but you have to move past your own wants and needs and serve those of the customer.
At the Techweek Chicago 2013 session “How to Build Great Products: Design and Roadmapping”, Nicolette Moreno, founder and chief product officer of Open English offered some great advice on product development. Though we don’t always think of it as one, a website is a product to, and the same principals apply.
Her points on how to build a great website:
Product design is being thoughtful about a particular need for humanity. Ask yourself questions like “What need does my website fill?” “How is this website helping my customers?”
Be Thoughtful. Moreno notes that design needs to go beyond the scope of the customer. She advises designers to put themselves in the shoes of customers, clients, investors, staff and total outsiders. I think approaching the website as an outsider is key – if I had never heard of your company, would I know what to do when I got to your website? Would I know what the product was/did?
She notes Whole Foods as a thoughtful company – one that adresses the needs of customers, vendors, staff and shareholders and makes them all feel valued.
List out all of the problems for every feature. Think critically about each page/feature of your site. Are there problems? Can you fix them?
Prioritize your epic stories. Moreno says “Prioritize is the most important word in design.” Think about your ultimate customer experience and use that to guide design, to determine which features are essential and which ones can be pared back or eliminated.
Build a great user story. Again, remember to think about the major stakeholders when designing. Moreno offers this helpful template for each user story:
As a ___________, I want to ____________ in order to ____________.
Fill out this statement for each of your major constituencies and allow that to inform your design.
Do you have some ideas for roadmapping and building more thoughtful websites/products? Please share in the comments below!