My daughter is in college, and is working on a project for one of her classes. She is working on a presentation for her speech class about the effect of web design on consumer behavior. She sent me a copy of the speech outline and one of the key items in her talk really hit me as it relates to web interfaces: “Shopping patterns and consumer behavior are not just random acts.”
This is basic marketing, but it is amazing how often major organizations forget about this. From experience I know that the challenges related to user interface design is that many organizational factions get involved and everyone has a perspective. What you often end up with is a design that looks like the elephant that was described by six blind men.
Never forget that in most situations, people come to your web site with a specific goal in mind. Very few will end up there by random chance. Don’t design a website or email message from your perspective as a marketer, but from the perspective of the visitor. Marketers are so used to push marketing that sites are often designed from the perspective of “here is where we want to push you” or “this is what we want you to buy”. When you do this with little regard to ease of navigation, your website is doomed to underperform.
A great example she uses to illustrate this is walmart.com. Just visit the site and move your mouse around. There are so many navigation components that you can easily get lost. Her research indicates that on an average day, the number one retailer in the world has .2 percent of all global internet traffic (compare this to Amazon, whose daily reach is as high as 5 percent).
In addition to these points, as a father, it is wonderful to see your daughter have such insight – she makes me very proud.