Understanding User Needs

This is a very spontaneous blog post! I know I haven’t written much lately, so I will pop an explanation at the end. But before we get to that…

My partner and I have a tendency to watch fluffy shows while we eat dinner. We love international food shows, trashy dating shows, and firm favourite staples like Queer Eye and Drag Race. Last night we decided to try a new Netflix offering: Get Organized with The Home Edit.

I’d heard of this show from my friend, Bec, who was flabbergasted by some of the aspects of the show, and I couldn’t help but agree.

A shocking realisation

The first episode I was completely taken aback by a particular exchange. The 2 women who make up the Home Edit were discussing their plans to makeover the closet of a busy doctor working in a hospital. They were discussing all of these aesthetic choices they were going to make… adding a vanity, organising clothes by colour, etc. The doctor’s colleague (also a doctor) mentioned having an area where hospital gear (scrubs and stethoscopes) could be stored.

The two hosts were shocked.

They literally said “we never would have thought of this!”

I was equally shocked… about the fact that these hosts, who are apparently organisational experts, hadn’t thought of something as simple as you should store the important items that the user needs daily in an easily accessible place.

Form over function

This is a classic example of designers who “design” based on aesthetics rather than the needs of their user, and the perfect introduction to thinking about what the users of your website need.

Do your users need pretty colours and fonts? Probably not. Do they need good user experience? Absolutely.

When users come to your website, they are there to accomplish a task, and your job is to make that task as easy to complete as possible. These are the things you should be thinking about before you add flourishes and personal touches.

As mentioned earlier, the Home Edit’s favourite method of organising is doing so by colour. Look, I get it: a rainbow bookshelf looks pretty cool. But is it practical when you need to find a particular book? For some people, yes. There are people who are incredibly visual. But the average person isn’t going to remember the spine colour of every book they own.

The Home Edit take this one step further, and even organise the kitchen this way. Good luck remembering what colour brand of beans you bought this week. Did you pick up Heinz, Tesco’s own brand, or Asda Smartprice?

What do your users need?

With my own website, I went back and forth on whether or not to include pricing on the Work with Me page. This is a hotly debated topic in many service-based industries and, for a long time, I resisted putting any mention of pricing on the page.

Some recommend not displaying prices as it can prevent certain potential clients from approaching you due to budget, rather than suitability. Some say it gives your competition an easy way to undercut your prices.

I used to worry about these things, but then I started to think more about what my user wants and needs from me. And I knew from my own experience that one of the most important things to me when making a purchase is (duh) the price. So I added a ballpark price range to give my potential customers a better idea of the investment they’d be making when we worked together.

Before you start designing based on what you want, try making a list of what your users need.

Another little update

I know the posts around here have been a bit lacking as of late. I have quite a lot going on at the moment. I started a new full-time role about a month ago, and I’m moving to a new flat next week. I’m really looking forward to moving as I will finally have my own office space. I’m hoping that this will motivate myself to work more on this blog!

Thank you for reading!

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