Whenever we start an application or medical website design, there are a number of questions that we ask our client as we gather requirements for the project. One of them is “What is your preference in terms of color and layout?” We want to know what the client likes. Maybe they have colors in their office that they love, or marketing materials they would like to match. Maybe they’ve seen a competitor’s website that they love.
But there’s another, far more important question that we also ask: Who are your users, and what do they need?
When designing a website, the user is at the center of it all. How they view and interact with your site or application and the value that they get from it is what matters more than anything. More than what your favorite color is, more than how your favorite website is laid out.
Considering the User’s Needs
As we start building a website, we look at the journey of a user: How did they get here, and what were they looking for in the first place? Are they trying to find general information, or are they looking to contact you quickly? We look at who exactly they are and what they are accustomed to. Do they have any preferences or pre-conceived (often subconscious) patterns of how they move through a page like yours?
Paul Biedermann from re:DESIGN wrote a great piece on user design and why focusing on “them” and not you or me is the most important principle in website design. He writes that “Good designers work hard to ensure a process that arrives at the best, most effective solution for the particular problem at hand.”
So find what the problem is and create a solution that fixes it. And remember, look at your user’s problem, not just yours, before you start building.