In our last post, we talked about how users come to sites with goals in mind. Good web design identifies what those goals are the easiest path to help customers achieve those goals. Of course, to accomplish this, designers and information architects must not only identify who the users are and what their goals are. They must also consider how the consumer interacts with the site. One of the most fundamental questions to be answered in considering this part of the process is …
Are your customers looking for a transactional or a transformational experience?
As a broad generalized principal most users are looking for an experience like A or B.
A. I know what I want – I know where to go – I know what to do and the outcome is simple quick, secure and repeatable.
This is like Online Banking – users want to complete a transaction or check an account balance, do it quickly and leave as soon as the transaction is complete.
B. Wow this feels great; I am enjoying this experience and feel fulfilled by the interaction. I would like to share it with others and feel connected with them through it. I feel good about myself and I will seek this feeling out again.
An example of this may be uploading photos on a photo book site and telling wonderful stories about the people and places in the photos – it is less about the tasks needed to achieve the result but more about the feelings that being able to do this brings. This is a transformation experience.
Good design research investigates the primary and secondary experiential goals that the users are looking for and incorporates their results into the design goals for the site.
According to the Self-Concordance Model (Sheldon and Elliot 1999), a user who seeks to achieve a goal and sustains an effort to achieve it is more likely to increase their well-being. Good design can support the user to maximize their user experience and reinforce the user experience and sense of well-being.
How can designers help their customers achieve that sense of well-being or satisfaction? As with the other steps in the process, the developer must put himself in the shoes of the end user and ask …
What are the emotional outcomes my customers are looking for?
Does the customer want to feel that the experience was quick, secure and easy or do they want to feel rewarded by a wonderful engaging experience? Or is it a combination of both?
Whatever you’re planning to do, the question is how can this design help your customer achieve what they are hoping for? You have a chance to both create and reinforce the good feelings of the consumer.
If your customer can achieve the feeling they are seeking they are more likely to associate your site or brand with that feeling. There is also an element of risk involved. If the design does not achieve it’s goals then a bad user experience may occur. If the feelings created by this experience are negative then the reinforcement may also be negative.
Find out what sort of feeling your customers are hoping to achieve and add this to the design criteria for your site. Design elements such as layout, imagery, sound and colors all contribute to any experience.
Comprehensive design research will be a major contributor to the success or failure of a web design. Once you’ve identified your users, their goals, and the experience they are seeking you can design with these parameters in mind. Of course, the beauty of digital communication is that you can also measure the success of your redesign. In our next post we’ll tackle performance metrics and ask the scariest question any designer can hear …
How many of your users are actually achieving their goals?