Q & Answers

5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Design

We work with designers every day and we often work with customers who want to know more about design. So I want to give you 5 quick tips that I think will help you out. These are five ways you’re sabotaging your design.

Sabotage #1 – Designing for yourself

The biggest issue I see is that people design for themselves, not for their customers. They don’t design for the user base. You might be saying, Well, I have this idea because it’s my idea and I’m going to use it. I would use my product.

You would use it, but you also know how your product is supposed to work. You understand the navigation. You can find all the bells and whistles. Do your users know how to do that? They don’t. This is the “curse of knowledge” problem: you have an understand of your product and possibly of the industry that your users don’t. That can sometimes cloud your judgement, leading you to design a product that works for you but you’re not aware that it doesn’t work for anyone else.

Sabotage #2 – Designing before content

This one is tough if you’re trying to create a website using a template like Squarespace or WordPress. But you really do need to know who you are, what you’re going to say, and where and why you’re going to say it.

You need to know what your content is. When you design, especially before you have content, you get things wrong and it requires a rework. If you don’t know your tone of voice, then your colors may be wrong or your fonts may not be right. If you haven’t finalized content, you don’t know how much space you need on a homepage for various different blocks of text.

Take the time, write the content, and then do the design. You’re going to find yourself in a much better situation.

Sabotage #3 – Lack of Explorability

Often products do not give users a chance to explore safely. What do I mean by explore? Try things out. To see if they’re going to work.

How many times have you been typing something on a website and you accidentally click the back button or you swipe a certain way with your mouse and the thing you were typing is gone. You try to go back to the page and your content is not there anymore. Ugh. How annoying is that?

But what if, when that happened, a little notice popped up (as you’ve seen in a lot of websites) that says, Wait, are you done? Are you ready to discard changes? Or do you want to keep them? How beneficial is that? It’s one little bit of code. That one little thing to make you feel better, to make you feel safe. You feel like you can use that product more because it’s got your best interests in mind.

We expect that website to work the way things work on other websites. We want to be able to experiment and try things out. To undo and redo. Make sure you let your users explore.

Sabotage #4 – Ignoring Habituation

What’s habituation? Habits. I’m referring to the methodologies we normally use, the human to computer interactions that we have in our brain that happen by instinct: Command C, click to refresh, things like that.

I’ve previously talked about Nielsen’s Law and Jacob Neilson, who is one of the first founders of the whole concept of internet based UX. His central tenant is that most users aren’t on your website most of the time. They come to your website for a moment, but most of the time they are somewhere else.

So since they spend time on other sites that follow certain standards, continue with those patterns that people are used to. Follow their habituations. Command P should mean “print.” Command C should mean “copy.” Etc. We expect things to work a certain way. So keep your users happy; don’t try to change those standards.

Sabotage #5 – Refusing to Simplify

Keep Design Simple

Everything we’ve talked about really does come down to making sure it’s easy enough for someone to use. If you look back at some of our other content, we talk about a concept called Hick’s Law: get rid of options so that users can make a decision faster and quicker.

That’s why a landing page can be so effective because it has one text box or one big call to action (CTA) that says, Click here, or Get your Ebook, or Download your Free Guide. We don’t get confused because we know what the CTA is for. We don’t have to try to surf around the site thinking, Man, where do I click to get the Ebook?

Keep it simple. Make it easy for your user.

Sabotage #6 – SEO Failure

I’ll give you a bonus sixth sabotage, and it applies to everything we’ve laid out here. And this is specifically for those that are a consumer facing website or business to business websites.

SEO Matters. But make sure you design for your users, not for Google. Google rankings are important, and you need to be up high, but if I come to your website and it’s full of a bunch of text that is not relevant to my needs, then I’m bouncing. If can’t find what I want, I’m leaving your site. If you brought me to your website under false pretenses because you had something listed on your keywords on your page, but you don’t actually offer that product, then I’m going to be mad at you. And I’m not going to buy from you.

What good is a user who doesn’t want to be on your page? Who can’t find what they want on your site? That user is not going to be your customer.

Keep it simple. Focus on keywords. Relevant keywords. You need to write blog articles that give a lot of detail about that keyword so that you can become a domain expert for it. Talk to a great SEO expert about better ways to get involved with Google, but don’t design your site for Google. Design for a user.

There’s another big benefit to this: if your site is good and people can use it and they’re coming back to it a lot, then they’re probably linking out to it a lot as well, which means other people are going to flow in, too. Then Google is going to rank it higher because you’re so popular. That’s obviously beneficial for you.

So now you have several fresh ways to look at your design. Hopefully you can look at your existing products, your websites and ask yourself, Are we doing these things? Are we not doing these things? How can we be better? These tips are just the beginning, but they’re good tips to have. If you want to dive deeper, if you need some help with your product, give us a call 866.981.6847 or send us a message. We’d love to chat with you.

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