Was Your Website Designed With All of Your Users in Mind?

Back before the creation of Wordpress and Tumblr, which allowed anyone with an internet connection to create a website, I built my very first website. I was in 5th grade and Got Milk? and Where’s Your Mustache? ads were all the rage.

Using Angelfire and Ask Jeeves, I pieced together a site by eventually memorizing HTML (still one of my big life accomplishments). With this site I sold and traded my collection of Got Milk? ads.

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The kids who had a good collection of Got Milk? memorabilia also had websites. The other kids trusted us more because we had websites as our ‘storefronts’.

The sites were made by kids, for kids, and I had designed my site with the user in mind (the FUBU mentality: For Us By Us). Not everyone has the expertise (my site was horrible) or the time to design a site for their users. It’s also very likely that in the adult business world the user’s (or the customer’s) level of tech savviness won’t align with the company, or vice versa — so while you know your users best you probably don’t know what they prefer from a technological standpoint.

Take a look at your company’s website. Was it designed with your user in mind? Chances are it’s behind, especially if you’re in tech. There are different kinds of users: new, old, tech savvy, computer illiterate — and at some point in time they will all land on your site, so which user should you appeal to?

I wanted to see what our dev guys thought about designing and building websites for different users.

“Ideally, good design should be intuitive enough for these users while being pleasing to newer users. But at the end of the day, results are what matters; you’re not likely to lose users/support man-hours to people being annoyed by buttons, but you will lose them if the user flat out can’t understand how to do things.” -Evan Cooper

Evan’s point goes back to appreciating and understanding your user. We want to engage the user without taking it too far.

Joe, another Staffing Robot developer, has a good example of how users can adapt over time to certain aspects of website design.

“A good example is the use of the hamburger menu. In the beginning, its only use case was on mobile applications — particularly Facebook. Early adopters showed difficulty using this design pattern as users didn’t know how to access it. We saw articles written about using the word ‘menu’ and even suggesting using traditional menus when space permits as being a better design. Today, the hamburger menu is more widely used and understood by users. However, the question remains — can you assume ALL visitors will know how to use it or should it be built with helper text or more traditionally?” – Joe Snell

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The goal here is to move forward technologically, but still support old tech. Peter had a few points based on our conversation:

Apple and now the web in general, has moved away from skeumophic design because they wanted something fresh looking, but also because, their users didn’t need a Notepad app to physically look like a notepad. Buttons, didn’t need to look like a button. Users are becoming more savvy, even older users have been consistently using computers in a professional capacity since the ’90s.” – Peter David

Designing with the user in mind can be tough. As a website design and marketing company we want to give clients something new and fresh without alienating other users. Almost always though, it’s a compromise between what we know looks and works well, what the client is comfortable with and what the user really wants.

Want help defining your users or deciding if it’s time for a redesign? Contact Staffing Robot today, let’s talk it out.

 Ad photos via Vintage Ad Browser (you can still buy ads online!).

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