Budgeting for Usability: It’s Not What You Think, It’s What Your User Thinks

A friend of mine was browsing online for Abyssinian cats and found a number of websites for catteries devoted to the breed. As we looked through a number of sites, one thing became apparent: all of the sites were inexpensive creations of a web 1.0 world, but there was one which shined through due to its strong usability, yet was just as budget friendly as all the others.

What was it about this one site that proved so effective even though it lacked all the polish and dynamism that seems so standard in the web around us? As we clicked through page after page of cute kittens, we realized this particular website’s strength rested in its effortless presentation of information. Health questions? Click. Breed info? Click. And on and on until there was no question as to what cattery she was choosing for her next kitten.

How refreshing it is to see that no matter the budget, if a site is crafted with the end-user in mind, if it preempts the questions and interests said end-user, then you will have a highly usable site with strong user appeal. Never mind the pomp and flash of big firms; if you’ve designed a site where the end-user can find what they’re looking for, you’ve succeeded.

Consider these tips:

  • Know your end-user through and through. Conduct interviews and read case studies pertaining to the habits of users in different industries.
  • Create three imaginary scenarios of people that might be using your site.
  • Think about their level of knowledge on the subject and what they might be looking for.

Even the best designer can’t assume to know who the users are for each and every business. That is why it’s crucial to do a detailed analysis of your client’s customer base. If you start with the user in mind, then the site’s worth will far outstrip the cost.