Sometimes we are asked by clients to provide some initial thoughts, observations, and feedback regarding the user experience of their existing web site, web application, or mobile app.

Path of Least Resistance
Users have figured out a shortcut from one building to another – right through the plants! If it were time to re-do the landscaping, would you put up a sign (No Walking Here!) or install a set of stairs? Source:

In the spirit of imparting a sense of how we think and how we work, we’re happy to do so.  But, we always caveat our comments by saying that normally, we would first want to spend some time:

  • With you, the client, better understanding the situation, what users have told you about what they like and don’t like, what you think is working / not working, what is the business trying to accomplish, etc.
  • With users, listening to what they have to say about the application, what they like, what they dislike, how it fits into their life, how they think it can be improved, etc.
  • Looking at competing / similar / adjacent applications. What can we learn from the similar products that have been designed, built, released, and refined many times over many years? What do we think about them? What do these products tell us about what we want and what we don’t want? What do users tell us about these products? How do these similar products actually perform when presented to users?

While we are user experience design professionals who can apply web and mobile design best practices and also have strong intuitions (due to our experience designing dozens of products over the years) around how to improve usability, we believe that domain expertise (e.g. knowing the business inside-and-out) and listening carefully to users is critical to designing a great tool to make the user’s life easier.