June 2, 2009

Document the User Experience


Hostway Team

Your Web site’s success ultimately depends on attracting and holding the interest of your visitors. To create a good experience that keeps them coming back, take the time to explore your project from your visitors’ perspective.

To map out the best possible user experience, try the following:

  • Identify your target audience. The more specific your audience, the better. Taking the time to define these groups will give you insight into potential customers’ lives and how your site fits into them. For instance one demographic might be affluent stay-at-home moms who use the Internet to shop.
  • Create user stories. Get inside your visitors’ heads by creating characters that fit into the targets you identified. Give each character a name (Gloria, for example), and assign each a task to accomplish on the site. Determine what steps Gloria and the others must take to reach each of their goals (use your site map to help).
    This exercise will help you discover and remove any potential obstacles in you visitors’ way. It may cause you to reorder or re-categorize some Web pages. Make sure t update your site map when you’re finished with the exercise.
  • Rank the user experience on competing Web sites. Your business doesn’t operate in a vacuum, so a Web site that looks good on its own may pale in comparison to the competition’s slick site. As you evaluate other Web sites, determine their strengths and weaknesses and how you can build on that to create an even better experience on your Web site.

When you’ve created a site map and documented the user experience, the next step is to begin to flesh out what content and functionality will appear on each page.

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