Users Don’t Care, At First Jun 11th, 2009

There is a constant struggle in my mind between form and function. Being design is always at my the forefront of my thought process, I get frustrated very quickly when a process is not optimized and does not flow in a user friendly way. I am not sure this holds true however for the general public.

When an user is presented with a new idea, the initial attraction comes from the freshness of the idea. After seeing “how cool” it is, they are hooked despite the short comings of website. Myspace always hangs in my mind as a great example. While their user experience has greatly improved since their initial launch, their user base was already into the 10’s of millions before they optimized how users went about doing things.

dont-make-me-thinkI think about a book I read a couple of years back called Don’t Make Me Think. The general premise of this book was to design websites that made sense. Users should be able to find the search quickly, they should be able to locate where they are and where they want to go in the navigation. While this should be the end goal of any website, we have seen websites launch and succeed that were simply put, awful from a user experience standpoint.

There are success stories that go the other way as well. I can’t help but say Facebook, Myspace’s competitor,  played it slow and did it right. They only let small groups of people join. Many services have done this including Google’s Gmail and These services not only limited the users, but they also released small stable updates.

There are many advantages and disadvantages to both methods. While I prefer a limted number of solid functions as opposed to many sloppy ones, it seems many users may not care. I think the common user doesn’t initially think about how well something works, they just like that it’s fresh and new. It’s what develops after the fact that lets users begin to decide what do choose. Myspace had no choice but to clean up their site, because Facebook came along and did it better. Users don’t expect the best right off the bat. They don’t even know what the best is! Users just want new and fresh ideas, and then you can take care of the rest.