Designers are problem solvers. We make order from chaos. There is a certain reward to be had from battling disordered systems and bringing information together in logical ways. Sometimes, it feels like putting together a puzzle.
A large part of what goes into successful problem solving is understanding the framework from which to judge success. Here are the top five pieces of information you need to successfully plan your next app, web app, or website system design.
- Who are your users? Understanding the groups of users, or audiences, coming to your site is an important starting point when putting together a system design plan. The users may be general consumers, business consumers etc. Break your audiences down into distinct groups, realizing that some people may cross over many groups.
- What are your users trying to do? Understanding what users who come to your site are trying to do is important. If you have an existing site you can look at analytics data to determine which pages are the most accessed. This will help you start to plan updates to information architecture.
- How can you help your users do it faster? If the information your users are looking for most often easy to locate within your website architecture? How many clicks does it take to get to the most accessed items? Do you have items behind a sign-in wall, when you may not need to?
- How can you create a hassle-free user experience? In addition to making information easily accessible, look for ways to streamline the experience. Reduce unnecessary data collection, form fields, sign in requirements etc. Try not to stand between your user, and what they need to do unless absolutely necessary.
- How can you gather timely and relevant feedback? How will you confirm that your new plans meet all of your user’s needs? Consider how you will test your design plans using interviews, testing etc. And, after the site is built and launched, consider channels to gather ongoing feedback. Links to submit feedback, trouble tickets etc. on your website or app are critical to ensuring your website is keeping up with the needs of your users.
So, next time you sit down to kickoff a new website workflow or information architecture plan, make sure you have answers to the five questions above first. Your work process will be more, focused, efficient and successful.
Until next time!