If you haven’t read “Why your site sucks (part 1)” I recommend starting there. If you did read part 1, I’m impressed you’re back for more browbeating. I’ll try to be a little nicer in this post.
In this next session you will define the user’s experience. Remember that list of audience members that I made you put to the side earlier? Yeah, pull that out.
Knowing your audience should inform every aspect of your site. They will use it more than you, so why shouldn’t you be make the user experience unique?
My own personal project has been in development for the past two years. (yeah that’s right, two years designing a site and I won’t write a single line of code until I know how all the pieces are going to fit.)
- Mission: Help independent artists of varying mediums communicate and promote cross medium collaboration.
Goals: short term: become an incubator for artists to improve and expose work to new audiences.
long term: Be Premier destination for premium online entertainment, start a movement, Renaissance.
Audience: Filmmakers, Animators, Writers, Graphic Designers, Musicians, Fans, Sponsors, Advertisers, General.
Why visit: Site offers a unique networking experience both on and off line and promotes collaboration in a way that no other social network to date offers.
After you determine your audience, you need to define their needs and goals. (make lists)
Create scenarios for each one of your users. By putting yourself in each one of the users shoes it will start to give you a feel for what your layout should start to be like. I do quick sketches if the inspiration hits, but this is only necessary if are really inspired, DO NOT JUMP THE GUN! Determine what group of users will comprise the most .
Give them a name, background, and task to complete on your site. Knowing why a user is on your site will help you design the user experience that will draw them to the places you want them to go. The exercise may sound cheezy, but if you had done this in the first place you would know why they’re using your competition and not you. Your competitor’s site is either:
A.)easier to navigate.
B.)has more relevant information.
D.) All of the above.
Speaking of competition, it’s time for competitive analysis. First, list your competition. The most successful generals were the ones who knew the enemy strategy as if it were their own.
Look at their site’s functionality. “Borrow” ideas. Adopt things you like and improve them. Take notes and screen shots. Incorporate all of the good, keep none of their bad.
When comparing competitor’s sites sometimes a grid is useful.
Then pick a time 3, 6, or 12 months away to revisit the site. Chances are, they’ll be making changes, and you’ll want to know.
Create a design document.
One major thing search engines emphasize is the importance of user experience.
Knowing who you want to attract, what they’ll need, and what you provide helps inform your content, navigation, and design.
Why your site sucks (part 1)
Disclaimer: If the articles in this series seem a little brash, it’s because they were written in my younger days on an older blog and I was just a little more abrasive then. However, I believe the information is valuable, therefore I have reposted it for you to read..