Many websites fail to deliver on the promise of greater customer engagement, conversion and retention, despite extensive discovery and strategy processes and exceptional graphic design.

Disappointing results reveal that the steps a customer goes through when making a purchase decision aren’t clearly understood. These steps are not simply a systematic process within the limited scope of the website itself, but are tied to the customer’s overall goals, mental models of reality, previous experiences, environment, relationships and a host of other influences.

User Experience Design delivers a website that customers understand and enjoy using, and recommend to their friends, resulting in higher sales and repeat business. The site will be more efficient for your staff to use and manage, and you’ll receive less requests for help and support.

In a recent blog post on uxmag.com, author Luke Clum wrote about some of the reasons behind the ascendence of flat design for web interfaces. I thought he made some good points, but the comments show that flat design has many detractors. One commenter went so far as telling the author to eff off!

To some, flat design is just another trend, while others trumpet it as a paradigm shift toward an interface style that is wholly suitable to the digital age. And of course, some people advocate for a balanced approach, which to me is just fear of commitment.

This is part three of my series on building goodwill with your site visitors. In part 1 I talked about the importance of categorizing and labelling things in a way that satisfies the goals of visitors to your site, and in part two I talked about creating goal-oriented content that guides visitors to down the pathways to satisfying their goals.

In this post I want to talk about the role of user interactions in building goodwill and creating a positive, engaging user experience.

In the first post in this series, I talked about the fact that people want to feel good about the companies, organizations and individuals that they do business with. In Don’t Make Me Think (2d ed. New Riders, 2005) Steve Krug coined the term “reservoir of goodwill” which describes the initial emotional state of a visitor when they arrive at our website.

From the moment they arrive, every interaction serves to deplete or refill the reservoir of goodwill, and our goal in designing the user experience is to provide navigation, content and interactions that fill it to overflowing.

In general, people want to feel good about the companies, organizations and individuals that they do business with. This is especially true when they’ve identified personally with the brand and have determined that the product or service will help them fulfill their dream or reach their goal. In Don’t Make Me Think (2d ed. New Riders, 2005) Steve Krug coined the term “reservoir of goodwill” which describes the initial emotional state of a visitor when they arrive at your website. In the case of a customer who has identified with your brand, the reservoir starts out filled to the brim.

Small local businesses need websites, there's no doubt. Unfortunately, in the rush to get online many small business owners entrust the important process of designing and building the site to people who are less than professional. I've seen it over and over again. They hire a web developer, who delivers something that doesn't work properly, so they hire someone else to fix the first developer's mistakes, only to get more problems from the second developer, and end up with a site that just doesn't work. What a waste of time and money.

I've been encouraged by the growth in professionalism that I see reflected in the websites of many non-profit organizations. A solid professional design is a necessary first step in establishing an organization as credible and trustworthy.

Spring is almost here, and with the price of gasoline hovering around $1.40 per litre, I thought it would be a good time to get back into commuting by bicycle. Buying a bike used to be a fairly simple affair. Do you want a mountain bike or a road bike? Over the last decade there has been an explosion of bike types, each tuned to a particular kind of use, and choosing from the available options requires a lot of research. For example, one Vancouver bicycle manufacturer, Norco, lists the following categories: Road, Mountain, Urban, Dirt/Street, Youth and BMX.

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