We tend to think that users are like us, but they’re not. All web users are unique; there is no “average user.” It’s not about whether someone might like this or this, it’s about creating a functional and positive experience; use common sense and plenty of testing.
There is a difference between usability tests and focus groups. Usability tests consist of one user at a time being shown something and asked to either figure out what it is or how to complete a typical task with it. Focus groups consist of a small group of people sitting around a table reacting to designs and ideas shown to them.
Test your site. Test your site. Test your site. Even if it’s just one person. Fresh, unbiased, unprepared eyes need to experience your work, preferably well-before the site is close to completion or launch. Testing shouldn’t be used to prove or disprove something; it should be used to inform your judgement, and it should continue to be tested well after your site launches.
Typical problems receieved through testing include: unclear concepts, unfamiliar categoration or naming, and simply too much going on. When analyzing feedback, resist the urge to add new features and additional instructions; often the right solution is to remove distractions.
Common courtesy on a website, much like in real life, can go a long way when it comes to interacting with people. Consider the main things people want to know when they visit your site and make it easy and obvious for people to find it. Simply show some effort and provide users with tools that will improve their experience (printer-friendly pages, FAQs, etc.).
Accessibility is obviously an essential part of web design — essential enough that it can often be intimidating to designers and developers. Will it compromise the ideal design of the site? How much time do I need to invest to provide acceptable accessibility?
Simply put, right now it’s harder than it ought to be to make every site accessible. Progress on this front requires continued support on mobile devices, government legislation, better technology and site building software, and motivational incentives.
It’s okay to bend (or even break) the rules of this book if you have a good reason. Bad designs can still be functional and usable under the right circumstances, and good design can end up unusable if not implemented correctly.
When it comes to the work place and providing good design, you can do as much as you want to make a site “look good,” but only if it’s not at the expense of making the site function properly.