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RISMEDIA, April 8, 2009-A common ingredient for failure in serving the needs of consumers is a lack of attentiveness towards the end-user experience (UX) which often occurs with poorly designed websites or software. Many focus efforts on certain aspects of their product while overlooking how users interact with them, leading to an inability to satisfy users, thus reducing the benefits that could have been achieved.

Goomzee offers seven steps you should follow to make sure your website or software is designed with end-user experience in mind:

1. Seek the ‘sweet spot’ – According to Nick Finck of Blue Flavor, the ‘sweet spot’ is the point at which your technical goals, business goals, and the goals of your user or client co-exist peacefully. To find this spot, it is evident that one must first map out the following: exactly what you would like your technology to accomplish, what you want your business in general to accomplish, and what users will seek to accomplish when interacting with your technology. Of course, the user’s goals come first, and if you can then tailor the goals of your tech and your business so as not to interfere with those of the user, you have found the elusive ‘sweet spot’.

2. Acknowledge that form always follows function – By defining the goals of your technology, it will become readily apparent which features you must implement to make those goals a reality. Oftentimes, organizations don’t take the time to map out goals and instead spend valuable manpower on artistic design, without any pre-existing functionality. Simply put, this is backwards. Form must follow function…period. Design should be based around the features, rather than trying to integrate functionality into an existing aesthetic setup.

3. Acknowledge that content is king – That’s not to say that the aesthetic design is unimportant. On the contrary, design and functionality are equally integral to the success of your technology. Business Week notes: “People want to get to the content (sic) they’re looking for. The interface is just the means to them and not the end. A good interface will go unnoticed and so will the work of its designer. The better the designer the less you’ll notice their work.”

A logical paradox: the more effective the design and navigation structure, the less it is that users actually think about the design; and, therefore, the less you block users from fully experiencing the functionality of your technology.

4. Keep critical focus on grammatical clarity – Grammar: what was once the bane of your existence throughout your middle school career is now what could make or break your profitability. Basically, if you do not take the time to exercise correct and proper syntax and typography, your messages will be unclear and therefore ineffective.

5. Avoid solutioneering – In other words, ‘thou shalt not put the cart before the horse’. Solutioneering refers to the practice of anticipating points of conflict and fabricating solutions to take care of those points. Most often, solutioneering doesn’t provide the best fix, just a fix. By waiting to properly identify a problem, you have a better chance of providing a solution that fully serves its purpose; as opposed to the pre-emptive fix being a complete waste of time and resources.

6. Allow for failure, and be happy about it – Failure, be it on a grand or minute scale, is inevitable. For this reason, anticipate possible areas of failure, have contingency plans in place, and treat every failure as a stepping stone. In the same way that every ‘no’ is one ‘no’ closer to a ‘yes’, every failure has one key piece of knowledge that can be taken away and applied to future failures, allowing you to “fail better” the next time. Thus, every failure is one failure closer to success.

7. Enable users to easily provide feedback – There are several ways to accomplish this goal. Some simply make it a point to have a live person sitting next to a real phone that rings when users have questions. Others may have some sort of feedback capability on their website, or better yet, embedded in the technology itself. Whichever method you choose to implement, make sure it is both easily accessible from multiple locations and easily navigated by the user. There is nothing more frustrating to a user than not being able to input support requests when they are paying good money to use your technology.

In short, it’s all about the user. Whether you are designing websites or high-tech solutions, the end-user experience is perpetually the variable that dictates your success or failure. For that reason, it should not be a question of whether or not you will bend over backwards to please your client, but how far.

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