Megan Leigh McDonald
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'Don't make me think.' Steve Krug

Megan Leigh McDonald

About Face

In re-reading this book, I have re-discovered valuable excerpts and insights into what I do everyday. There are a few quotes I want to blog about. Nothing fancy today, just a few somewhat random thoughts about User Experience.

“…good design makes users more effective”

Truly, this is the point of good design, although the term ‘design’ is such a broad-based, multi-interpreted word. In the ‘real world’ the title ‘designer’ is often used as a ‘catch-all’ for someone who can do graphics, maybe produce a website and possibly provide some basic usability. But looking more closely at this word, it probably should be more narrowly defined. I read very quickly a prediction (on Adaptive Path or some random Tech article) that the job descriptions calling for a ‘do-it-all’ kind of person would be supplanted by very specific, more narrowly defined descriptions.

Consequently, the kind of designer that I naturally became and am still becoming is a more user-centric one. I studied media user behavior in Graduate School and appreciate a more academic analysis of website usage. I remember back in the day with WebTrends, how the data was focused on uniques and visits and clicks and various user statistics like browser type. But now, using Omniture’s SiteCatalyst I’m completely blown away and (dare I say?) excited. It’s the kind of thing that gets me up and moving in the mornings, for lack of a caffeinated beverage.

Something about examining the numbers is kind of like being a detective. I get to root out where the problems are, where people have trouble using a piece of software or web application. I can’t help it, I did love Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. So this aspect of my job is the one part that gives me the greatest satisfaction. I get to improve the experience for the user. I get to make the user more effective at what he/she does.

There is a huge difference between teaching the user to use the system and designing a system that works for the users because ‘good design makes user more effective’.

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