What defines successful front-end design?
Cater to both types of users – basic and expanded.
In an ideal world the end user would never be forced to guess how to get from point A to point B. Or, as Steve Krug says, “Don’t Make Me Think.” Is this always possible? We have been trained to acknowledge certain frameworks as the standard in web-based application design. But when do we draw the line and move forward to expand the user experience and reward them for using your system? Why not simply cater to both types of users – basic and expanded.
Basic users have a set task and limited amount of time to achieve their goal.
Expanded users want access to more details, more options and more control over their overall experience.
Design your application for basic users by making it easy enough to use that it won’t require a training session for basic functionality. Build on to your application only after that is complete and allow for a more dynamic and rewarding experience. A great example of this is the WordPress blog system. You can sign up for an account and begin posting to your blog within minutes. Or, for the more advanced expanded users, WordPress allows you to fully customize the entire user experience from the front-end to the back-end.
Keep in mind that there will always be users that break the flow of your application. That is why it’s crucial to make things as easy as possible. I am a fan of simplicity. Look at my website. It’s hard to get lost. Remove the option of getting lost by grouping tasks for the user to complete in a condensed and sensible order. Take out the fluff.
Store & Play: How to improve the system
With hundreds of clients you begin to see where this becomes a large portion of unbillable time.
In April 2009 I was tasked with managing the work flow of Walkout Video™ — a web video advertising service for media publishers and local business owners. The service had a lot of potential but lacked a usable web interface.
After a few months with the service I noticed common requests:
- Can we change the click through link
- Can we change the position of the ad
- Can we launch the ad without sound
- Can we add a skip or close button
If we wanted to revise the client’s ad with any of the above requests it would involve me recoding the Actionscript source and uploading the revisions for each video and each client. We didn’t charge for those revisions either. With hundreds of clients, including Dollywood and Abbey Carpet & Floor, you begin to see where this becomes a large portion of unbillable time.
I proposed a complete overhaul after only working at TAP Media for a few months. I saw a very large opportunity for additional revenue and expanding the business model beyond ‘one-and-done’ small business clients. We needed to transition into building long term relationships with major market media publishers in television, radio and newspaper.
What would you have done?
- Begin billing the clients for the time spent on revisions due to missing dynamic functionality?
- Remained silent because it wasn’t your problem and you didn’t design the current system?
- Voice your concern over the limited system and push for growth regardless of being the ‘newbie’ at the company?