You go to visit your friend’s house because you are looking after it. You have never been here. You put the key in the door, open the door and reach in flipping your hand up. The lights turn on and you can see the lay of the room.
That is a great design and great usability.
The designer or architect likely thought about the experience a person would have walking in the door to the house. The placement of the light switch had likely been pulled from a set of specifications they use regularly, as it streamlines their process, but in that process, hundreds or thousands of designers and architects have laid out light switches the same exact way. It is done enough that it has become a pattern we expect.
That switch could be the ugliest switch and not so compelling, but because of placement, and the fact that you didn’t have to think about it when you opened the door, makes it a great design. Putting a nice looking switch there is simply icing on the cake at that point.
Designers do this regularly when creating a design. They have to know who the users are, what they are going to expect and build something that is going to be expected. Knowing how users interact with products allows them to put together a site that is not only good looking but also going to be sticky and convert users, bringing them back for more.
If you build it, they might come — if they need it.
Usability pulls in many factors that need to be considered. Your product, service, website, advertising — whatever is being designed — has to first be something that serves the user needs. This is the most important thing before all else. If it doesn’t help the user, they will have no reason to use it and they won’t come.
The best first stop in a design journey (and your business) is to know who your customer is and what problems they have. When you know the struggles the client has, you can identify a solution that best matches 90% of the people you can serve.
Learn early. Learn Often.
After you have identified what your product should do, it is best to start prototyping and iterating as early as often. Start with a simple position. Try it out. Learn what works and what doesn’t. Refine the product after you learn something new.
By keeping it simple and iterating early and often, you can reduce friction in the product based on what you learn. And if it simply is not working, you can drop it and save money for something that actually works. Walking away is sometimes a better choice than throwing good money at bad ideas.
By keeping it simple, you don’t get bogged down in making something too complex, and never releasing. By keeping it simple, you solve the one big issue the user has and making their lives better. The earlier you can make their life better, the sooner they can like you and share with their friends how awesome you are.
It works. Make it compelling. Build trust.
You have learned and iterated a prototype. It functions simply and easily, making it a breeze to do what it needs to do. And making it look great now will get people to show others how sweet it is. They share with their friends and friend’s friends. Well, we hope they do.
You continue to implement, test, and refine through the development of the product. You get to improve the product based on user feedback as we move forward. And the users get stoked for being heard because you have addressed their needs. And you build communication, which builds trust, which builds a relationship with a user.
Now your product is viable, compelling, and building trust. This is what some call a brand, and it is a great thing.
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