Are there any product design truisms - Texts - Web design is product design (6)

6. About tests

6.1. The wishes of the customers
6.2. The functionality
6.3. The ease of use

6.1. The wishes of the customers

A company that wants to successfully market products in the long term keeps up to date with what consumers actually want and what they don't, and the more efficiently a product addresses the needs of buyers, the more sought-after and successful. These are truisms.

Four basic motives of internet users can be found in relevant surveys, namely:

  • communicate quickly and conveniently,
  • Find information
  • Solve problems,
  • be entertained.
Nonetheless, websites are often boring, do not offer reliable communication interfaces, the information they offer can only be exploited with great difficulty, and very few of them are serious tools for solving problems. Conclusion: The providers do not seem to be particularly happy to be bothered by customer requests.

That this is more than malicious rhetoric can be made clear by a simple comparison: If market research finds out that consumers cannot endure anchovies on frozen pizza for death (which, by the way, they are completely right about), the manufacturers will act accordingly and not in enter a tough competition for the super-large double serving of anchovies. The situation is different on the web: in all surveys that recorded problems of users with the Internet, waiting times and the associated costs are at the top of the list. Completely unaffected by this, pompous appearances are celebrated everywhere, the loading times of which make the visitors desperate.

6.2. Functionality

The high risks and costs associated with the launch of new products mean that a great deal of effort is made before a product is actually manufactured and released for the market. It goes without saying that this includes functional and stress tests. Nobody likes to spend their hard-earned money on defects, and most importantly, nobody buys the same defect a second time. It's a shame if the new TV gives up after a week, or if the handle of the travel bag breaks off on the first trip - a hopefully established customer relationship can easily come to an abrupt end.

It is just as unfortunate when a tempting link on a website leads to a construction site page or when submitting a search form does not result in more than a cryptic error message. And here, too, you don't need too much imagination to be able to imagine that sooner or later the recovered customers will simply change the product. What's more, if you have some experience, you can quickly take a look at websites that are knitted with a hot needle and then don't even bother to find errors. Good products or websites are characterized by that of course consumers do not have to do the final inspection

6.3. user friendliness

Ideally, the usability of a product is also tested, which, however, is all too seldom the case, especially for those that need it (video recorders, fax machines, etc.) and also on the web. Many ergonomic problems are unmasked as soon as one lets an inexperienced person navigate through the carefully elaborated pages just once. Nevertheless, many companies obviously cannot bring themselves to actually have such tests carried out. (If it were, it would look different on many websites.)

Incidentally, I doubt whether the notorious feedback link ("Tell us your opinion!") That adorns many web pages is sufficient for this. Certainly, many dissatisfied customers only move when they are so annoyed that the resulting urge to blaspheme more than negates their natural comfort - and then it is actually too late.

There are no reasonable arguments to justify cutting down on usability tests. The only conceivable factual justifications, tight time and cost budgets, are exposed as nonsense as soon as one deals with the matter more seriously. Usability checks not only improve ergonomics, they are also proven to help save time and money - among other things because they simplify, accelerate and objectify decisions that have to be discussed in highly paid expert committees. A website composed ad hoc has to be corrected and redesigned much more often than one in which the ergonomics are checked from the start. Unfortunately, although these facts have also been known for a long time, they are rarely taken into account - to the chagrin of consumers.