How do you design a new site or remodel an old one around the user's or visitor's needs? What is the processes you should go through to design a site with a successful navigation scheme and user experience? How do you figure out what the user actually wants before the site is developed?
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote/font><HR>This is a general topic to facilitate discussion. I pick these topics off the top of my head though they are usually related to the current week's reading material. I try to read a new book every week as well as several different magazines. I hope this clears up the idea behind this topic. Please feel free to respond with your ideas and comments.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Internet Media Provider
[This message has been edited by wluke (edited April 05, 2000).]
I don't know exactly what type of "user" you are refering to, but here goes.
If the user is a corporate client then one has to have the mentality that 80% of the work will be planning. Everything from the corporate mission, down to the color scheme being used.
One can consult with the client based on a set of questions that probe the client. These questions can be easily divided into a few sections: corporate - strategy/culture/hierarchy/mission, technical infrastructure, purpose of the site, company's vision for the next 2 years, etc.
These types of questions can help one understand the company better so that a custom tailored solution can be made. Too many times does a web developer think that as long as the site is compatible and pretty it's a success. That's only the beginning!
A successful web design firm does not have a transaction frame of mind. That is, okay we just finished another project yeah! Now we can through away all the files and erase that client from our minds! NO! big mistake! This is just the beginning of a long-term relationship. The client may not have an extensive knowledge when it comes to the web and we just assisted their company to enter this new world! WE ARE THEIR ONLY RESOURCE! EXPLOIT IT! One can always follow up and find out if they need a marketing strategy to increase their hits. etc.
As far as the navigation goes...look at the company and how they function and what they're about. If they are a company that is global with various divisions then don't get too specific.
Also don't do what amazon has done...it's so cluttered that I don't know exactly what their mission critical processes are other than logistics.
Another strategy is to do a SWOT analysis on the client...find out their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. On the index page one can somehow highlight the companies strengths. One can devise some sort of solution for the client to exploit future opportunities. One should also find out competitors and see what they are doing.
The user I am referring to is the general everyday Web Surfer. These are the people that ultimately pay the bills. If you don't satisfy them then the designer's client won't be satisfied and will think their Internet Investment was a waste of time.
Internet Media Provider
The first priorities are to sit down with the client(s) and deceide a) to whom is the site to be built for, b) what is the content of the site, and c) how do the first two relate to one another; everything else should be based around this.
For example, an intranet site for an engineering firm will certainly need a different approach then a large e-commerce site meant to reach everyone with access to the Internet.
[This message has been edited by westmich (edited April 05, 2000).]
When you develop a project (your own project not some work for some client) it's most likely that you know a lot about the theme of the project so you should design for yourself cause you are that surfer who's interested in the content and you know how you want it.
When developing for others you should probably find someone intersted in the subject (but not your client) who can tell you what and how he wants it. Many clients aren't surfers they are guys from the other side of the shelf so they don't really know how it should be.
In general I think you should develop for yourself unless the target audience is much different from you in such a case you should find an insider.
For the user! Just like a customer is always right - the user is always right. Sites need to be user-friendly, easy to navigate and absolutely fool-proof. Then user is satisfised => the client is satisfied. Isn't that our main goal?
How do you know what they want? If you have a taget audience, then you have an idea of who they are and what they want. Sometimes the client will tell you what the users want.
Navigation? If you are redesigning the site, it helps to look at server logs to see where users go, how they get there etc etc. Then you can build a better navigation system based on that data.
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[This message has been edited by temis (edited April 06, 2000).]