Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Users have common goals, fears and hates

A great recent post from Gerry McGovern in which he highlights that every website is NOT different and that he is tired of the associated babble (my word) that goes with defining sites e.g. "emotional branding".

Right there with you Gerry.

Obviously everything has an emotional attachment to some degree but most websites are about task completion, as plain and boring as that sounds. Over the 11 years I worked on websites and intranets without any exception any site that doesn't deliver on basic task focus and completion fails.

This applies across all sorts of sites to any site, intranet, e-commerce, government, video sharing, forum, search, Users want to do something quickly, easily and get a quick result (and as Gerry amusingly points out for free...).

It's unfortunate that web professionals are still having to fight the fight against excessive marketing vernacular. I have recently (unsuccessfully) tried to argue against the automatic playing of unrelated audio for site visitors to a non entertainment site.

Same battles I was fighting back in the 90's and unfortunately still losing the occasional one.

So despite all the growing awareness of usability, user focused design, IA, accessibility etc etc there's still exisits fundamnetal ignorance about websites even with those that actuallly manage them.

Cool is not always good. Wow factor is as fleeting and fickle as your users are.

End result is frustrated users, bad business opuibicity and eventual effect on a company or organisation's bottom line.

The way forward is to continue to educate clients, users and manages. Stop trying to convince them with best practice and gurus and focus on reports, stats, clickthroughs, research, MONEY. Hard data.

Convince them with business logic not website logic eventhough they generally lead to the same place.