Bad UI is Everyone’s Problem

BakuganMy son loves Bakugan.  He collects the cards, knows all the character names, watches the show, and wears the T-shirts.  So, he was just plain ecstatic when he discovered the Bakugan website the other day.

My wife promptly started creating an account. Unfortunately it was a very frustrating process that was only exacerbated by an anxious 6-year-old who desperately wants to play with this great new site.  After 20 minutes of struggling she gave up.  My son’s angst turned to anger thinking mommy didn’t love him and wouldn’t let him play on this site.

I calmly explained to him, “Son, it’s not mommy’s fault.  Their website is poorly designed and she can’t get the account to work.”

His response? (With tears in his eyes for effect)

“Daddy, why don’t they just make a better website?”

SMACK!  This is where my experience as a Disney brand manager and online marketer collided.  I know darn well that the target age for Bakugan is 8 to 10, but since kids aspire up, it is pulling in children as young as 5.

So when the developers were engineering this site, did they consider how a 5 year-old would view it?  Or did they only think of the 8 to 10 year olds?  What about the parents who don’t know half of these characters in the first place and may have varying levels of web experience? (And are trying frantically to create an account while there kids are nagging them)

My son’s question was valid?

As you look at your own site, have you considered the scenarios of people visiting it?  Here are a few things to consider:

  • Have you gotten so complex accounting for every single user that you’ve watered down the experience instead of leaving clear paths?
  • Have you considered not only your most typical user but also the one that may have the most issues to address?
  • If someone completely outside your industry lands on your site, can they tell what you do?
  • Can an occasional visitor quickly find the most relevant information?
  • Is there clear navigation following current web design best practices that guides the user where you want them to go?
  • How complex is your sign-up process?

Put yourself in the roles of your site users and occasional visitors and walk through what they would be doing on your website.  Can they find what they might be looking for?  Can they navigate for more information?  Is the content clear that all of these groups can read it?

At the end of the day, it’s about usability and how users will view your company/organization.  And a bad web experience then becomes everyone’s problem.

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Stretch Yourself

I’m not a tech person.

I know that surprises most people that know me.

I like technology and use it. But I don’t write code and open up the guts of programs to figure things out.  The extent of my knowledge of HTML has been copying a YouTube video into a blog post…. until now.

The designer who works for me left to take a new job a couple of weeks ago.  He’s a great guy and is helping out but I don’t have anyone else to do coding or update pages until my new designer starts.  But business goes on and guess who’s understudying the role of “Web Designer”.

I’m frustrated.  Stressed.  In over my head.  And guess what….. I LOVE IT!

Now, I’m not going to give up my strategic marketing and communications work anytime soon.  But I feel a bit more prepared to manage the process and appreciate the people who make it look easy.

You see, too many people stay in their comfort zones and don’t stretch themselves.

And I learned something along the way.