Improve Products by Asking the Right Questions

UI design for web applications presents many challenges that aren't encountered in a typical website. Successful user interfaces assist the user in their task, organize information, and are fun to use. By answering these questions, you will obtain valuable information to make your application more effective.

What Purpose Does the Application Serve?

Many people make the mistake of focusing on the end result immediately. The intent of the application should be defined long before features come into play. Before designing the interface, identify the need that your service intends to satisfy.

For example, is the application meant for booking a plane ticket? Making a purchase? Searching for information? These are all questions that Expedia, Amazon, and Google asked during the development of their websites.

Does the Feature Wishlist Align with the Product Goals?

Evaluate the feature list and ask yourself which ones are necessary. Every feature in the interface should go through a thorough screening of asking "why?" The features will play a major part in determining the layout of the finished product.

What Is the Interface Accomplishing?

Properly designed interfaces make it easier to accomplish tasks. Similar sections can be grouped together to simplify tasks.

When planning out the development of the interface, it is important optimize the interface for productivity.

  1. Think of the steps involved to accomplish a task.
  2. Think of ways to make the process more efficient.
  3. Eliminate the excess steps.

Are There Any Best Practices?

Ever wanted to see how other people solved the same problems with interfaces? Design patterns can help. Design patterns act as a guideline of solutions to common problems or features. Using these patterns will help save time and development cost by providing a reference for best practices.

Is It Fun to Use?

The user experience and execution should ultimately come before the feature set. Interfaces should be interactive and consistent. Things that are fun to use get used more often. If people don't like using your service, they will be quick to look for another option.

Answering these questions provides information to improve the effectiveness of your web application. Giving users a tool that allows them to accomplish their task quickly enhances usability, increases site usage, and achieves a higher return on investment.

We all know that planning is one of the most important steps in the life of a web design and development project. Without establishing goals and objectives early on, the project requirements are either misguided or left until later when changes will be more time consuming and costly. Taking a consultative role starting with the sales process ensures that the project team will have sufficient information to complete a project in the most efficient manner.

As a creative individuals, many freelance web designers have difficulty approaching the sales side of business effectively, but we can use the resources around us to solve the problem. In this case, the resource happens to be another mass communication media, radio.

During a media advertising class in college, I obtained a sales certification from the Radio Advertising Bureau, a professional trade industry akin to the AIGA. One item of continued importance was a customer-focused approach through thorough needs analysis. Following this approach can ensure that you can build and provide value for your clients.

Discover Opportunities Early

Other articles on the topic of web design list “discovery” as the first step in design and development projects. By asking questions during the sales process, you learn more about the client’s needs rather than just talking about why your company is God’s gift to web design. Chances are, your product has not changed much from your last sale, and talking about your company is routine and natural. However, focusing discussions on a prospect’s needs helps indicate what solutions or advice you should offer and helps establish rapport and trust.

It Can’t Be That Easy, Can It?

No, unfortunately it isn’t. This is only step one of the process, but if you do well, there is a good chance that you’ll earn the business and be around long enough to make it to other steps in the process. By taking thorough notes during the sales process, you will be more prepared to turn out a great looking website. Clients with successful websites will give referrals, and referrals beat cold calls 100 to 1.

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