[Post] meeting users' needs: How to make users participate in Website Design

Source: Internet
Author: User

Meeting users' needs: How to make users participate in Website Design

The existence of a website on the network does not mean that a successful website exists. In order to reap the lucrative profits of network investment, enterprises should ensure that their websites meet users' expectations and are easy to navigate. Using the tools and methods described in this article, designers can meet this requirement without budget or timetable tightening.


When companies are eager to invest tens of thousands of dollars in website construction and advertising, few are trying their best to make websites easy to use. The result is that the website cannot meet users' needs.

There is indeed a strong way to design a successful website, that is, a website based on user expectations and feedback. This relatively simple method has been used within IBM to create various Intranet and Internet sites. It brings higher satisfaction, greater "access" rate, and positive feedback, and, most importantly, brings a longer design life. Therefore, a successful solution rarely needs to be changed.

This process applies to existing websites and websites still under development at the same time. It involves four steps:


Determine the reader
Collect their needs and tasks
Organization Information
Create a website architecture
Build Useful Websites

Because the software design uses a "user-centric" approach, enterprises want the software they bought to be easy to use. But why do these companies not require their websites-many of which are developed with a lot of financial resources-and easy to use?

This is partly because most companies do not know that they should have such expectations. In fact, most website design companies do not even provide this service. Web design is still a fairly new discipline, so there are almost no publications discussing how to integrate user-centric design into the entire web design process. In any case, compared with software users, web users are rarely motivated to learn poor browsing design. If Web users cannot quickly find the information they want on a website, they will leave the website and may never go back. This experience may even affect users' understanding of the enterprise and cause economic losses.

To avoid this unfortunate occurrence, we have adopted a practical and tested method to create a website's advanced structure. The entire process is based on user feedback. It is suitable for simple and relatively hierarchical websites and can be completed within two to three weeks. In the end, we will get a user-confirmed Website "architecture", and other members of the design team can join in. This architecture is actually a low-fidelity version of the target website. We can quickly change and refine it. Because we rely on user feedback to resolve design disputes, we have found that this process can greatly shorten the design phase of the development cycle.

Before proceeding to the next step, we should note that the following steps only provide a way for user feedback to drive website design. Like software design, website design is also a complex process with many changes. This article cannot fully discuss the user-centered design and its role in website design.

Step 2: Determine the reader

Like the software interface design, it is difficult to create available and useful websites without a clear user base. Many companies are targeted by market groups, but such reader definitions may not be specific enough to create competitive websites. In fact, Web readers may be different from non-Web readers that the marketing department previously targets.

Let users define for themselves. The most convenient and cost-saving method for collecting reader-defined data is investigation. Although we do not intend to review and analyze the survey data here, you may need the following items to help you determine the readers:

An experienced CGIProgramMember. (In fact, this may be the only requirement .)
Database software that provides interfaces for Web applications that collect and process survey data. (Not essential, but can reduce the demand for programmers .)
Specialized software that simplifies questionnaire distribution and  processes. (It is recommended to be used in a very large and complex investigation .)
Essentially, there are two ways to conduct investigation: active and passive.

Proactive survey collection assumes that you or others in the group will actively recruit people to complete the investigation. A common method is to send an email to the target reader, which can both send the actual survey form and indicate the location of the survey form. If a website already exists, an email can be sent to users who have provided feedback or registered with the website (may download the product or obtain other information. If you do not have an email address, you can purchase an email list from a publishing/advertising company or from a company specializing in the target email category list. You can also search for locations where your readers may "Stay", whether virtual or physical. Newsgroups and email lists are good virtual locations, while user group meetings are good physical locations.

Passive survey collection is an easier way to collect data, but it requires existing websites to conduct surveys. For a passive survey, the website owner provides a link pointing to the survey only somewhere on the website (preferably the homepage. You can also try to make advertisements on other websites to attract users' attention, but we do not advocate this technology because it may lead to users who do not normally access your website.

For any type of investigation collection, providing an incentive mechanism may easily increase the number of people answering questions. But there is also a problem with incentives, that is, they may make the sampling of the total number of visitors to this website not representative.

Ask the correct question. Investigation problems can generally be categorized into three types:

Career profile (what is a user's title and what does he earn a living ?)
Web surfing Overview (how, when, and why do I search for work-related information on the web ?)
Website usage (What do users like/dislike? What tasks do users like to execute ?)
If the target reader is not currently using the website, or the website has not been designed, concentrate the website usage problems on the primary competitors of your website.
A valid survey will also include asking users who want to complete tasks that are not currently available for this website, which will help to identify the main user tasks of your website.

Prior to designing the issue, the author of the questionnaire must fully understand how each part of the data is collected to assist in the design and creation of the website. This eliminates irrelevant issues or marginal issues. Too long investigations may lead to incomplete responses (especially when there is no incentive mechanism for answering questions), or even "losing" potential website users. On the other hand, if you miss important questions, you may not have the opportunity to ask them until you have completed the design. Appropriate time should be set aside for all team members to check the questionnaire and make comments. See Appendix A for examples of the problem to be investigated.

Step 1: Collect requirements and tasks

After collecting data about the target readers, the next step is to determine what website content is needed. You can perform this task by identifying the current and future tasks and requirements of the website and prioritizing them.

In this process, we call the content requirements of the website as "targets ". The website target can be any information on a specific website. The Goals are determined by the website designer. They can be either specific or general. In short, meaningful results should be obtained. For example, a software market website may target White Papers, FAQs, and downloadableCodeBrochure, product support phone number, fame history, etc.

The identification of these targets depends on how you want to process them and whether they are already on your website. If the target is to better organize the existing information on the website, you can carefully check the various web pages of the website and create a list of all the content of the website. If you are creating a new website or want to enhance the information on the existing website, you should collect information based on the website's objectives and tasks to determine what content the user expects to find on the website. There are many different ways to collect the requirements for the website, and the method you choose will depend on the time and money the designer has at his disposal. For a comparison and brief description of each method, see Table 1. If you want to learn more about these methods and how to use them, see the article "find out what the user wants to get from your website.

Table 1: Comparison of five requirements and task collection methods

Method: Interest Group
Advantages and disadvantages
Interest Group meetings can be conducted in either of the following two ways: traditional methods and electronic methods. In traditional interest group meetings, the chairman of the meeting usually presides over an oral discussion attended by a few people (usually no more than 10 people. Because it is difficult to collect data during meetings, such meetings are usually recorded and then transcribed.
Electronic interest group meetings usually use group software to collect electronic "discussions" from participants ". Electronic interest groups are more organized than traditional interest groups and retain less verbal discussions (although there are still some oral discussions ). Because the discussion is collected electronically, report data can be obtained immediately after the meeting. In addition, as electronic interest group meetings include various activities, participants have to endure longer meeting times than traditional methods.
Companies can collect large amounts of data in a short period of time.
Meetings are fast and easy to hold
After the meeting, the electronic conference will immediately provide a fairly detailed report.
This approach may be costly and usually requires a trained meeting chair.
No more than 20 participants in the group
Traditional conferences require a large amount of analysis and interpretation

Method: repeated investigation
Advantages and disadvantages
With traditional survey methods, you can collect requirements from a series of surveys and classify them by priority. The first investigation involves a wide range of problems. Participants can be prompted with some known requirements, or they can freely talk about it.
After collecting data from the first investigation, you must remove duplicate entries and clarify vague answers.

The second survey requires participants to evaluate or classify compiled requirements based on importance (or other related factors.

If necessary, subsequent surveys can collect more detailed data based on specific requirements.

Note: The results obtained by this method are similar to those of the electronic interest group.
Remote participation (including participation outside of the United States) is free of charge because you do not need to travel
Large sample size can be used without significantly increasing costs or total data analysis time
The entire process takes two to four weeks.

Method: Exploratory Investigation
Advantages and disadvantages
If a large survey has been planned, the simplest and cheapest way to collect the required data is to have users list the specific content they want the website to have. See Appendix A's question 3 and question 4. This kind of investigation is cheap and simple
Large sample size can be investigated in a relatively short period of time
Data may be difficult to analyze and compile; subsequent surveys are required to differentiate the priority of requirements

Method: On-Site Practice
Advantages and disadvantages
On-site practices can be carried out together with other task collection activities, with little or no additional cost. To view the survey sample, see Appendix B. This method is cheap and simple
The result can be supplemented with other data about the requirements and tasks.
The questionnaire form provides users with a context for a specified requirement and task.
Respondents should accept detailed guidance and sample solutions, so this method is best suited to one-to-one scenarios.

Method: Competitive Investigation
Advantages and disadvantages
This method can be implemented no matter whether there are any users. After determining the competitive websites, we will conduct an in-depth and systematic investigation on these websites. The investigation should focus on the content and functions that are not planned on your current website or website. This kind of investigation is cheap and simple
Based on users' comments, the company can thoroughly understand the value of specific content and functions
The investigation may be time-consuming, especially when users are involved.
Without the participation of users, it is difficult to determine the value of the content and functions.

When you need to edit the website content, include all the Goals in your final list, regardless of whether you can merge them into your design. Avoid ignoring the suggestions for future content by focusing only on the content at hand. Long-term considerations will help you create a flexible design that can be scaled over time to add new Web targets.

Step 2: Organization Information

At this stage, users can be called to organize and construct the website objectives they have set in the previous step. The result of this step is the website architecture model.

This step actually includes four activities: Card category, category identifier, category description, and category tag. Because the results of card classification are directly transmitted to the remaining three activities, it must be performed first. The remaining three activities are usually carried out at the same time and repeated as necessary.

Card category

To better understand how users think about how to organize information on the website, use the following simple card classification:

A stack of cards is provided for each user ". Each card contains the name of a website target. The stacked card consists of all the website targets identified in step 1. Cards must be randomly arranged. Many tools, including tags, word processors, index cards, and post-it notes, can be used to create cards. We prefer to print the target on the tag and then paste the tag on the index card. This makes it easy to create multiple groups of cards. The index card provides a lot of space for you to write.
Ask users to arrange cards as they like. Instruct users to organize cards in any way that makes sense to them. You can create any number of groups, and each group can contain any number of cards. Users also obtain some blank index cards to add any new website targets (content requirements) They want to see on this website ). In this way, they can write their new requirements on the blank card and organize the card with other cards. If users want to put the same content in two different categories, they can create another card and put it in the category they want.
Ask the user to describe each group. After the user organizes the cards, they can ask them to explain each group they created. The description does not need to be brief (just like the website tag), but it should be noted that the goal in a specific category is divided into a group of reasons. After you describe each specific group, pin the cards in the category together and write the instructions on the first card.
Evaluation results. The evaluation of the results of this activity can be either quantitative or qualitative. We prefer the qualitative method because the number of participants in this activity is usually small (about 5-10 ).
The method for evaluating cards is very simple, similar to the concentration game: We put each dingtalk category on the table starting from the card Group of the first user. Then, the cards of the second user are classified. If one category of the second user matches one category of the first user, place the cards directly on the other. If no match exists, a new category is created. Repeat this process for each user's card group.

After this process is completed, the basic structure of the website is quite obvious. Some website targets will always be divided into one group, while others will not. Some classification tags (or descriptions) are used by different users to describe the same type of content. If the user places the information in different places, don't worry, this will be solved soon.


Based on the results of card classification, the designer can orchestrate initial classification tags for the website. Once a category list is created, participants can access each object on the entire website and specify the category they want to click to find the target. (See Appendix C for examples of the category identity questionnaire .)

A consensus should be obtained after data of all participants is collected. To determine this comment, calculate the percentage of users who agree to each category tag for each website target. Previous research showed that the goal set by the designer should be: at least 70% of the website targets reach 80% of the comments of most people. To keep the target from two categories in a consistent manner, you may wish to have a link to this content in both webpages.

See Appendix D: Sample category ID result

Category Description

To perform this activity, you need to provide participants with the suggested category tags for this website (the same tags used in the category tags ), and ask them to describe the information they want to find when they click a specific tag. This description should contain the definition of a two or three sentence for this category and the project example that the user expects to find under this label. After the user completes their label description, ask them to evaluate their confidence in the description they just provided. (See Appendix E for examples of the category description questionnaire .)

When evaluating the results of this activity, the designer needs to look for: 1) participants with sufficient confidence, and 2) Correct definitions and examples of each classification label. (Another benefit: users may propose other content that the designer did not originally think .)

See Appendix F: type description result example

Note: If the same group of users completes the two activities, the order of these two activities should be weighed to control the impact of the order. (That is, when half of the participants carry out the activities in a certain order, the remaining participants carry out the activities in reverse order to reduce the tendency of the activities .)


This final activity is most helpful when it is difficult to determine the optimal tag for a specific category. In this activity, users are provided with content samples of a specific category, and three to five TAGs of this category are also provided (this activity can be performed for all categories, or you can only target those categories that you have difficulty ). You are required to browse the information, and then select the best tag for the information. You can also enter a new tag in the supplemental domain.

When analyzing data, find a tag with more consistent user opinions from the selected tag. If you cannot obtain the approval of most people, the classification may be poor. In this case, it is necessary to perform more class identification and description tasks.

Note: If this activity is in the same group as the category identifier and description task, it should be the last item of the activity. You will not perform this task until you have sufficient confidence in your website organization plan.

Step 2: create a website architecture

This is the last step. In this step, the designer starts to use the previously collected data to develop the prototype of the website structure. Like software design, it is important to repeatedly test low-fidelity prototypes before investing a lot of time and effort in developing the final product. Architecture Creation and verification allow you to complete this task, and allow you to hand over the website structure to the website author as the basis for the final design.

"Architecture" is a simple model of a website, used to determine the content of the main navigation page and level 2 page. This model determines the website structure and content location, but does not contain any images or reflect the actual design of the page. Because of its simplicity, architecture is a good tool for testing low fidelity availability, which can be used to evaluate the entire structure of the website. In addition, we found that no graphics can make users focus on specific content, instead of focusing on the appearance of the website.

The themes at this stage are simple and clear. After all, engaging users should not significantly extend the design and development time, but should only help the development team make design decisions. For example, if two designs with the same information are controversial, the group can quickly create two architectures with the same content and then collect comparative feedback on each architecture. In general, the availability assessment for this phase should not take more than half an hour, and should be appropriately arranged to allow rapid repetition.

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