Don’t Make Me Think; Comon Sense Usability

I was in the gym this morning when I noticed someone had a copy of Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. This book came out in 2000 and was the first book I read about usability. It was an excellent grounding because everything Krug talked about in the book is still relevant today. I would highly recommend reading the book for yourself.

The first chapter: Don’t Make Me think! Krug’s first law of usability is THE most important question to consider when evaluating a site. If you really want to measure how effective your site is as a marketing tool try this simple test:

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Top ten design mistakes for websites

There are many beautiful websites out there, easy to use, a pleasure to look at and bursting with great content. Unfortunately the world is also full of badly designed websites to plague our lives on a daily basis.

1 Whose website is it anyway?
The worst mistake in terms of marketing has to be designing a brand or website to appeal to your own tastes and not to your user. You may love fluffy kittens and cute pink bows, ok for the flamboyant show-cat owner; but the rest of the world? As outlined in How a Persona can improve your website: be very clear who your customer is. Start with a detailed persona and then design specifically for that person. Don’t ever give your web developer free reign. They probably think World of Warcraft is awesome man and judge all design standards on that.

Keep focused on who is going to buy from you.

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How to create a Persona for your website – Part 2

Creating a persona for your business can be easily achievable with plenty of motivation. This article follows on from How a Persona can improve your website Part 1, and covers how to easily create a persona for your business.

How you can begin to create basic personas

Persona creation can be a huge investment. Focus groups, extensive interviewing, set building and role playing. It doesn’t need to be that way if you have no budget but lots of enthusiasm.

The starting point is to talk to as many of your potential or existing customers as you can. This can be be done in person (if you have a traditional shop), in the street if you are geo centered, by phone or by taking advantage of social media marketing such as facebook and twitter. Facebook can be an outstanding medium to tap into an audience: listen to the chat or invite discussion through joining groups and asking what people want from your product or service.

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How a Persona can improve your website – Part 1

Know your customer: craft design and copy to them directly and have better usabilty, and more importantly – higher conversion.

What is a persona?…
A detailed profile of your targeted demographic.

Includes age, social position, environment, aspirations, personality traits, skills and personal details. The persona character should have a name and ideally a photograph to bring it to life. Essentially a vignette of your customer which can be used for design and copy direction to ensure you appeal directly to your user.

A persona is not a stereotype or a customer profile. A stereotype is merely a caricature and like an illustration is susceptible to the reader injecting their own interpretation. A customer profile is a generalisation of demographic ie; tweenager or mid-lifer and not descriptive enough for persona requirements.

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Above the Fold

Keep important content at the top and left of your website.
Web users prefer websites that follow a conventional layout.

80% of time is spent above the fold
The first 800 pixels (vertical) of a web page are classed as ‘above the fold’ (a term originating from when broadsheet newspapers would be folded in half for newstand display). This is your golden section to contain the most important messages from your site and to grab attention. On early sites users would not scroll at all; users are still basically lazy and need encouragement even though long pages are now standard.

80.3% of time is spent above the fold, 19.7% below (Jakob Nielsen, March 2010)

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What’s your UVP?

Ask yourself why someone should use your product/service and not your competitors…

“What one thing about your company, your product selection, your customer service or your customer loyalty is so compelling, that even if a product was out of stock, or some functionality were broken on your site, a customer would stick around and buy something?” Linda Bustos, Get Elastic #1 subscribed ecommerce blog

What is a UVP?
A unique value proposition (UVP) should clarify and combine your unique selling points (USP), your benefits and offer a convincing reason as to why someone should choose you. A UVP will augment your brand by offering solid reasons to your customer as to what you can bring to them. A successful UVP has to come from an area where you excel over all your competitors; if your business doesn’t have one then I suggest you rethink your strategy. Without a UVP your business can only be mediocre at best.

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