Give it Some Time. Try it Out.
So, it’s been almost two months since my website’s first round has been completed. The first round is important: you get to find out what works visually, measure impact and decide where you’re really at with this project completion thing.
The following rounds are where the good stuff lies though. I prioritised deployment over aesthetics, made gut decisions on layout, and took as many risks as possible with both verbiage and visuals, knowing that all could be subject to change.
Now, if I were designing a website for a major retail chain that needed e-commerce functionality from the first day out, on a tight timeline, with a small testing budget, would I still recommend early deployment?
Most definitely. I’d deploy a live version as soon as humanly possible, test internally, and continue working on the pretty shit while taking in as much feedback as makes sense. Of course, this has to be managed and has to work within the time and human resource constraints of the project, but a slick website grid doesn’t matter if you’re not thinking about the people meant to be using it.
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How did I do my testing?
The easiest way I could: I sent the links to my friends, a few former clients, asked them to complete and pass on a quick, five-question interview, and boom: feedback.
The general feedback was positive; the design was well-received and users liked the combination of quirk and technical competence that i tried to convey. There were some problems though:
- Having a menu that appeared only when you scrolled down was cute, but what happens when users go back to the top of the page? Nothing, that’s what happens. No bueno.
- Cool social links on the home page, but maybe include those same links in the main menu?
- Nobody knows how to pronounce my name.
Not sure how I’m going to deal with that yet; sure, there’s the phonetic breakdown solution, but it’s not like anyone’s going to be calling me from my website — no phone number. So yeah, I’m taking a look into this. I’ll probably do the phonetic breakdown thing.
- Some links on the About page were broken. More attention to detail needed.
- Ordering of slideshow images needed more coherence.
I could have sat on my own for hours to work these out, but even then, how would I be sure it works for others?
Test your shit, make changes, test it again, and keep that going.
Your users will love you for it.