Everything I Needed To Know About User Experience I Learned In A Restaurant
User Experience design is full of talented professionals from every corner of the digital age. Some are behavioral psychologists, some are graphic designers and some are developers… the list goes on and on.
Me? I learned everything I need to know about User Experience from working in a restaurant. The web business, just like a restaurant, is not about converting visitors into customers it’s about converting customers into loyal followers and advocates for your brand. Today I use the same five basic principles I used in my restaurant days to drive my clients success.
1. Begin at the beginning
In a restaurant the experience begins as soon as you walk in the door. It’s crucial to make the right impression in the beginning. It sets the tone for the entire meal.
It’s the same idea on your site. Users make decisions about your site, your company, your competency within seconds of landing on your site.
The site needs to look good
Like it or not “presentation is everything” on the table and on the web. If your site’s greatness is lost in a sea of clutter, bad color and mismatched fonts, you don’t look professional or competent and make it just that much harder to establish trust.
Make sure the site is well organized
Different users have different ways of finding things. Make sure and take steps to organize your site to accommodate the most common styles and make your content searchable.
The site needs to be easy to find
If you can’t be found it doesn’t matter how good your site looks or how well organized it is. This is an ongoing effort and there are a number of designers and search engine optimization professionals out there to assist you.
2. Know who you’re serving
When approaching a table, I make an evaluation of the mood of the people at the table. This way I can anticipate their needs and match their expectations. Different people want different experiences.
Likewise with your site, being everything to everyone may seem like a safe bet, but it’s improbable and likely not necessary. When working to define your market make sure and document beyond demographics. User experience designers use tools like personas, use cases and workflows to document user’s motivations, barriers and likes/dislikes to drive a delightful experience.
3. The Devil is in the details
The customer looks to the waiter for information about the food, drinks, the lighting, the temperature… anything to do with their experience.
Just like in a restaurant, your users are looking for details beyond the transaction. The success of your site depends not only on the usability of the site, but also the consistency of the experience across browsers, operating systems and devices.
4. Timing is everything
In a restaurant, on time is the only time that matters. Too soon or too late diminishes the customer’s experience. Similarly, on the web being prompt and timely is a make or break scenario.
Site owners need to be aware of the ever present load time of the site. It is and has always been a frustration point for users. Make sure that the tasks required are not so laborious that they become a barrier to conversions. And require only the minimal information to complete the transaction.
5. It’s not over till I say it’s over
Just because the food is delivered does not mean that the waiter’s job is over. A drop in the level of service at the end can ruin all your hard work and planning. Once the purchase is made there is still opportunity to make the customer feel special. Remember that even delivery of the product on time is something that will be tied to your site.
The summation of all these truths is that the level of trust and loyalty you build is proportional to the attention to detail that is paid delivering delight and enjoyment while users consume your services.
About the Author: Craig Wright is a user experience design consultant with a passion for designing web applications that are easy to use and beautiful to look at. Follow him on Twitter @uxcraig.