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improving online experiences – the gap between users and designers September 2, 2008

Posted by nicholas gill in IDEA, information architecture, Institute for Dynamic Educational Advancement, thoughts, usability, web 2.0.

My summation from this research by IDEA is that an Information Architect is vital in the digital process to bridge the gap between users needs and creative beliefs. This isn’t mentioned in the report but there’s a clear yawning gap where designers feel they have a great solution and consumers don’t. Having worked with and without an IA in current and previous guises, the end product is far better for having a true usability expert involved in your project to ensure the creativity is enhanced.

The report is worth a bit of bedtime reading and some key take outs:

  • 70% of designers believe visitors can maintain orientation on a site compared to only 10% of users who are able to always know where they are on a site. Navigation, intuitive labelling, breadcrumbing. Basically, no surprises.
  • This ties into users having a greater need for local search on a site conflicting with designers views that users should know where everything is.
  • Current and updated information is more valuable to users than fancy graphics and multimedia. Give them what they want and reduce the barriers to get there.
  • Effectiveness equals being able to complete your goal. This requires you to understand those goals beforehand.
  • Speed is critical even in broadband times. No big flash loaders, chaps.
  • Deep linking to content beyond the main nav and modulising it is paramount. This comes back to having a flexible creative template structure at the front end and a stable, customisable CMS at the back end.
  • Users are less interested in tone of voice than a designer which is galling considering the amount of effort we agency types put on the skills of a copywriter. As long as it has good grammar and no typos, they don’t care it would seem.

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