Designing for User Experience
When you are designing a website, especially one with a complicated back end or interactive components, user experience is one of the most important things to keep in mind. While you as the designer or developer may understand exactly how the site flows and works, you have to keep in mind who your end user is. If the user finds your site frustrating or hard to use they will most likely not return to your site or may look elsewhere for the service you provide.
So how do you go about designing for the end user?
1. Take an audit of all pages you will need.
By compiling a exhaustive list of everything you are going to need you with have a point of reference so that you don’t forget any pieces. Making this can greatly simplify your next step…
2. Make a flow diagram or site map.
This part requires some thought. You have to envision how people will be interacting with your site and acting as the end user to create simple paths to each part of your site. One key thing to remember in this process that can complicate thing is that you want the user to get to their end destination in the fewest clicks possible.
3. Create screens of each page the user will see.
For this step you will need to reference your flow chart. If a certain page can break into 5 other pages, be careful to give a client a good escape route so they can return to the category page (the one that breaks off into 5 others). This way if they have clicked on multiple things and none are what they are looking for they can start fresh and go from there. A very simple way to do this is called a breadcrumb.
This example shows the main category (videos) and each of the steps into subcategories the user has taken. With this the user is able to easily navigate back to any tier of their search.
4. Test it out!
Once you have created every step of the process, pretend you are an actual customer or user and try it out! If at any point you get confused or lost, take note and see if there is a way to smooth out that step. Remember, you created the design so if you have trouble the customer will have a great deal more trouble. Things should flow seamlessly and with a natural progression.
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