One of the hardest things to do as a site architect and back end administrator is to think like a user. When I designed Fanvertise.com, TheClosetRedmond.net, and this site, there were so many different user experiences that I went a little mad with flowcharts. I’ve architected other sites that have multiple enterprise-level uses and functions, but the real challenge is to switch back and forth in your mind between a consignment shop and a MMO and an advertising company–and what all those users need.
The secret is user stories. It’s a concept in agile development, and though everyone in the field of web development understands the need to think like a site user, this concept formalises UX/UI-based design. In essence, ask yourself what a user (both front-facing and behind-the-scenes) would want from a site like the one you’re developing.
1. “As a consignment
shop customer, I want to know what hours the shop is open and how to get there.”
2. “As a tech blog visitor, I want searchable site archives.”
3. “As an internet marketing company content writer, I want to be able to read and save drafts of my work before publishing it to the web.”
Ask yourself these questions. It’s how you figure out what people actually want from your site as opposed to what you THINK they SHOULD want from your site. This is how you avoid this trap:
That’s the reason I did my personal website the way I did. Take a look: Tarahwheeler.com. It’s simple as dirt, crawlable, scannable, and each of the QR codes is also an image map with links to the site the QR code advertises. Anyone at my home site is looking for my web portal; they get a visual experience, and can easily scan or hit links to the location they actually want to be at.
“As a visitor to tarahwheeler.com, I want to find her blog/Facebook/Twitter/web companies/LinkedIn.”
That’s how user stories work; sometimes, talking through them gives you more information than you though possible to get without surveying users. Give it a shot.