Meeting user expectations

8th May 2017 / by Richard Gray

We’re teaching my youngest child to count at the moment. He can count to 3 ok, so we asked him, “What comes next – one … two … three …?”

“Go!” he said…

Well, we had to hand it to him – he was right.

That same afternoon I was watching him play a simple game on the iPad. He can’t read but likes to watch his older brother.

Playing a new game one afternoon when big brother was in school he completed a level and then very happily clicked the ‘Next level’ button.

He couldn’t read but in all the other games they’d played, that button was in the same place – bottom right of the screen.

And the game, as expected, took him to the next level.

He was happy.

And it’s these sorts of conventions we (mostly) need to be careful we follow. Users expect certain things to be in certain places and get annoyed if they have to hunt for them.

Search boxes are traditionally in the top right hand part of the screen; logos top left. Sub-page navigation is normally on the left; related content on the right. There’s an unsaid order of events, simply because that’s what most sites do.

And, unless you’re deliberately trying to be different (and I think on the web you need a very good reason to be) it makes sense to follow these conventions.

It’s what people expect and it makes then happy (well ok, it makes them less unhappy) when they don’t have to spend time figuring out how your site works.

Rich's Rants

Why do the same thing twice?

Asking your users to do the same thing twice just makes them annoyed and adds risk to the process.

Put things where people expect to find them

Like small children and lost toys, your website should put things where people expect to find them.

Don't confuse with colour

Putting aside the colour blindness issues of using colour to illustrate state, for those of us who aren't colour blind, please use colour in a way that makes sense.

Why apostrophes matter

I was asked one morning whether I thought that using apostrophes correctly really mattered.

Show you care

Show your users that you care about the small things and it will show that you care about the big things too.

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