Often times as a developer when moving around the internet I take great pleasure in examining the different user interfaces (UI) that I find. As geeky as it sounds, nothing excites me more than finding a really interesting UI Element or a new way of displaying information on a website. However, what I am always amazed to find is how many companies seem to simply ignore the concept of UI design. They mindlessly do what has always been done as though it is traditional: Search in the upper right, menu navigation on the top etc. While some of UI design is doing what is expected; an often ignored portion of it is taking into account who your users are and what they will most often be doing on your site.
When you look at your website take a moment and try and get into the head of your users. Think about why they have visited your site and what they want to get to quickly. For a great example of this, take a look at http://www.imslp.org which is a site which archives old public licensed sheet music. Because searching for sheet music is one of the most important things for their visitors, the search bar is not put in its normal position but instead in the center of the screen, highlighted and easy to find. In contrast on http://www.rackspace.com/ the search bar is smaller and less noticeable and instead the phone number and support links are easily visible and in natural places – no clicks needed. This is because visitors to that site are often looking for quick answers to critical questions.
Today take a moment to look over how your site feels. Don’t worry about whether the heading should be powder blue or navy blue but instead think about what information your visitors want to find quickly. Do you get a lot of calls each day asking about your shipping rate? If so, how many clicks does it take to get to that information on your page? Jot down some ways to rearrange your navigation or front page so that customers can see and find the information they need quickly. The quicker a visitor is able to get into and out of your site, the more often they will visit, and the more often they visit the more opportunities you have to engage them with things like: sales, promotions, new products and special features.