Too often I go into a project and the solution has already been decided on. Be this from a budgetary decision, internal software “policy” or just a personal choice by a senior team member. When this occurs you really do have to question if the organization really is considering a [...]
Articles of Interest
I discuss with businesses the way they communicate with their customers on a regular basis. Most of the time it’s a one way conversation. Usually via a website, promotional material, email newsletter or social media. Now this is fine, to a point. It’s great for getting the message out, but [...]
Often during a design or strategic process I will be asked why we can’t just categorise the information on a web site to mirror an internal business process or the way it was before. You know I wish we could, but unfortunately customers often don’t think the way information has [...]
When you are running a business you try and make it as unique as you can, with distinct elements that will separate you from your competition. This is a given for any successful business.
You also want, for the most part, your customers to be unique to your business; with their own specialised requirements, only you can meet.
In the offline world this holds true, but not so online.
In the online world of the web, sadly there is a trend to just copy what your compeditors or other successful overseas businesses have done.
More often than I would like recall, I will talk with potential clients about their customers experience of their services or web site.
Often they will admit that their customer service or web experience is very poor.
Yet they will preface it all with – “but my customers aren’t going anywhere, they are clearly very loyal and don’t mind the current experience” – even if it is very bad, even abusive in parts.
What is happening here is very common. To often the rule of “its not broken – don’t fix it” comes into play.
I have been involved with designing and developing web sites and other interfaces for a while now.
Overall this time the way we (as a design community) worked just didn’t seem that right to me. It just seemed like we were not working with the client and their customers but just working for them.
Being involved with projects in the capacity as an independent consultant often means that I have to adapt and slot into the process as required. And you know over all these years I have found that teams still seem to be doing it wrong. Oh they say they are different, but at the end of day, the process is all the same.
The other day the w3c put out its first public draft for the Website Accessibility Conformance Evaluation Methodology. This is basically a document to help you evaluate if a web site meets the WCAG2 compliance.
Overall this is a good document. One must remember however that it’s a first draft, and like with any first draft there will be holes in it, some the size of truck. It’s also open for constructive comment.
Yes we all understand about Accessibility. Yes we all know that it’s as important as web standards.
But have we taken the time to look over the WCAG2 guidelines and all the supplementary information that is available on that site in detail.
This is especially relevant at the moment for State and Federal Government agencies with the implementation of the Web Accessibility National transition Strategy in full swing.
I know the W3C site in itself can be a little overwhelming in the depth of information, and for the busy web professional what is really needed is just the core information you need to get the job done.
User Journeys are yet another tool that fits within the User Experience design space.
They represent the mapping of a customers experience on a series of levels, from the emotional view, to technology use, issues, interfaces and services encountered; be that of varying products from any source.
It’s can be basically a timeline, if you like, from the birth of an idea (“I need a…”) to the end of life of the purchase or service (“this is not working..”).
Now this may sound all encompassing, and you may say “hey we already know about our product life cycles”, and that is fine.
Last year a Director from the AGIMO declared at Web Directions South that Western Australia was one of the poster children for state government based implementation of WCAG2 compliance in relation to the National Transition Strategy (NTS).
On the the 30th June 2011, last week, the WA government has announced publically the date by which the entire WA government, public facing websites, intranets and extranets must be at least WCAG2 level A compliant.
This date is 31st December 2013.
Customer research is very important, you really need to know your customers needs and what they are thinking. However if the research isn’t correctly executed it can have a negative effect.
Even the big guys can make this mistake. Last week Walmart confessed to it’s massive $1.85 billon dollar customer experience mistake.
Basically Walmart, despite it’s size and expertise seems to have forgotten one of the basic premises of customer experience or service design
It’s interesting that people like Gerry Harvey are being dragged kicking and screaming into the twentieth century (yes correct last century), and have now announced they as a “pace-setter” are moving onto the web.
Clearly Gerry Harvey is very new to the web world, this is classic case of a business failing to innovate.
Failing to innovate will result in the failure of your business at some point in time.
From a small business to the larger enterprise, testing the waters with social media is the latest trend. Some would say it’s the great saviour for the online business community.
However venturing out into the world of social media isn’t as simple as setting up a facebook fan page, opening a twitter account or just dropping some social sharing widget onto your website. Things can go sour very quickly if you don’t do it right, after all no one wants to have that facebook fan page with only 10 fans.
You really have to consider your customers and what are they thinking about social media before you begin.
When you are thinking about reworking your existing web site I bet you find yourself thinking about the new features you could have on your site. Now these features may look really sexy and give the impression that you are up with the latest trends.
However the reality you have to ask yourself is, are these features going to help my customer, are they really going to help the business.
Managing a website can be hard at the best of times, there is the technology itself – that is forever changing. Then there is the new kid on the block social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and like.
On top of all this is there is the constant reminder that your content has to be just right for your customers and Google (for all that SEO goodness). And then you have to ensure that your site is usable for your potential customers as well. It’s a lot to take on.
You may not have known, but in Australia it is an offence for certain industries and providers not to have accessible websites under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.
Now this may sound a little strange, but the reality of any web site is that the visitor (and potential customer) has to be in control of the entire process.
If they aren’t in control, then they are going to feel like they are being rail-roaded, forced to make a decision, and have that horrible out of control feeling. We have all had it. The feeling of being not in control, when things are being dictated to us. We all know that it’s not pleasant. We hate it personally, and will avoid it.
The same concept applies to a web site.
If you went to buy a consumer good a few years ago, depending on the urgency, you would leverage your contacts to get the best advice. Maybe you would start with a chat with friends over a coffee, discussing what they use.
However that has changed. Take this point in case. We need to purchase a consumer good on the weekend.
I think I know my customers very well. Some I have had business relationships with for the last 15 years. Do I think I know their customers well. Would I honestly try and second guess them. No, not really.
It’s not that I don’t have the experience, design skills, or the details of what they tend to be like.
In the old media industry (print) all you really had to do was get the design right. Follow the rules and your design would sing.
However the web is not print – bet you have heard that before. Designing a web site is more than just a perfect visual design. A design that follows all the principles of good design.