Remember your customer

October 16, 2010

When you design or create a web page you have to remember who your main customer is. Or, do you? Is design and usability all about satisfying the supposed impression made by your customer?

I would say yes, and no.

Where I work, the business is all about money – and the ones that pay is not the typical web user. The ordinary customers to the site is all kinds of people, from the web novices to web experts. When we program and design, we make it as easy as possible. The UI is not very intuitive, but it is understandable. There is always a call to action, like “click here” or a description to simple tasks. I don’t always like this, but we need to do it this way if we want to reach out to the masses.

On the other side, the projects I do at home – they are partly for my own interest, but also part of using (hopefully) intuitive and creative solutions to attract the users. A way to get customers. A way to create attention. The average web user should figure out the features, and the design should be obvious but with features that are not that obvious until you start using the site more. This is on my premisses and terms, not on the end users – and there really is no support department to call if you are a novice and need help.

The third scenario is websites where the main feature is to test new features, new ideas, new ways to present and manipulate data. Typically a test site for new features in for example HTML 5, CSS 3 or some fancy JavaScript. Often these are a bit over the top creative websites that even pro web users have to use some time to tame. I think sites like that is mostly to test the web, to suggest new ways, to be ahead of the developement and to not care all about what will be a standard UI at the end to the common user. We need these sites.

These three examples are three different ways to program and design. What your goal is up to you to find out, but when a blog – or some expert – say that this is a trend, and that is a thing you should have, or a menu should look like this and a button like that – you really should think about the consequence. Purpose, content, design. They go hand in hand.