It’s easy to recognize a great website, but harder to build one yourself. Here’s 8 short-hand questions - whether you're the executive, a marketer, or product manager - to use to evaluate any website or app, or use in creating a new one.
1. Who’s it for?
When your target user(s) arrives on this page, how do they realize it's for them? You can test whether you're successful by asking for feedback from friends who represent your target user on who they think it's for. Iterate your designs until your users’ responses match your own.
2. How did I get here? When I got to this page, what is it that I'm looking for?
Context is everything. In your user’s journey, what expectations are carried from previous screens? Get in your user’s heads to understand what their expectations are when they arrive on this new screen. Though dissonance between expectation and reality can be powerful when carefully crafted, you’ll likely want to conform to your user’s mental models.
3. What’s the product, feature or service on offer?
Don’t bury the lead - be clear with the product, feature, or service you offer. You can test for understanding by quizzing users in research to repeat back to you and explain what the product or service is and what it does.
4. What makes this product different than others offering it? (e.g., how are you positioned?)
You’re not the only company offering your product… your users need to quickly grasp the 1-2 (max 3) things that make you different from everyone else. This is the unique value you provide that no one else does.
5. What’s the promise you're offering me?
A brand and its experience is greater than just the product. To support this experience, what explicit promises (e.g., around product benefits, time to delivery, prices) are you making?
Take it a step further - what are the implicit emotional promises you are making? For example, if your new feature helps users instantly replace a lost credit or debit card, then you’re giving users peace of mind that they’ll always have access to their money. The deeper emotional promise of security is often the more powerful. Be careful though - don’t make promises you can’t keep.
6. Ok, now that I, the user, understand what you offer... why should I trust you?
Credibility. Authority. Trust. This design aspect is often overlooked: you can’t leave users unconvinced that you may not mean what you say. Consider helpful design elements, like: testimonials, reviews, displays of recognized logos of companies you work with, or noticeable media mentions.
7. What do I notice about the design? What do the images, colors, navigation, typeface, and layout convey or remind me of?
Images, typeface, and layout are to a brand, as makeup is to humans. These elements allow us to dress our product up. What does your dress say about what you want to convey?
Picking a font and online layout similar to Google or Spotify would convey that you’re a consumer tech brand. Whereas picking a font and layout similar to upscale retailers like Tiffany’s or Brooks Brothers would convey luxury and status. What other brands do you want your users to be reminded of by your design?
8. What’s the call to action?
Finally, every screen should have a clear purpose. What is the action or expectation you want to set as a user proceeds? Collectively, your screens and experiences should build to one clear goal - engaging and enrolling the customer in going on a journey with you as your customer.
Find your Inspiration
Now, go to your own website. Ask yourself these 8 questions. How's clear is it to new users?