It's been now a while that I build websites. I have built many websites. Complexes websites for big brands, smaller ones and also tiny web projects. Through this, I learned that usually 90% of the content and features are useless. That's provocative I know. But useless for whom? Useless to the majority of the end users. In these 90% percent, there is a lot of valuable content. There is also a lot of time invested invaluable features. The valuable content is valuable to a minority. And valuable features to the website manager. But people, normal people just don't need all this.
There is room for a kiss
Going to towards the essence
So if my hypothesis built on experience is true, there is room for better websites. Quicker to build. Easier to maintain and where people just get what they need. If we build websites based on needs we only build what is useful. But how do you do that? Ask people what they search on your website. For most of the businesses, it's the contact Infos, opening hours and location. For a few businesses, people are in interested in the products. That's it. When you ask people and not just imagine what they need the list of what matters is super small.
Well, done user research helps to go toward a K.I.S.S.* approach. When things are simple people find things quicker, and they are just happier. Because you decided to say no to that cool feature you improve the user experience. You also improve the customer satisfaction.
I have a admit that following such an approach is difficult. First of all, we are all excited by the shiny features and content. Sure. But do we need them? Then, for some manipulative companies, building more features means bigger projects and bigger bills. Even if end users do not need that feature the work generated brings more profit. Lastly, it's hard to say no. It's hard to say no because we all want to please our clients. It's hard to say no because sometimes we don't have the tools to say it. One of the tools that could help professionals to say no is again user research. When a new request comes you could ask the client: is that something that users need? If we don't know, maybe we should do research. We should go through a complimentary interview to find some insights.
Cool and shiny still matter
But isn't essential
If we build only functional websites, we still would have yellow pages. You can include a shiny and new feature in a project for three reasons. Reason one: it's something that enhance the user experience. Reasons two: it enhances the storytelling of the website message. Reason three: your client has a gun over your head. I hope for you that the last doesn't happen too often or then consider hiring w bodyguard.
The Client candy
Not necessary but not harmful
Okay, let's be completely honest. There are times where the rules above do not work. When a client is so excited about something that you can't ignore that feature. Because not doing it would lower that much it's excitement. Then, the rule should be the following. If it’s not disturbing for the user and makes your client damn happy, then do it. I call this kind of features client candies.
Client candies are like real candies. Take one it’s ok. Take dozens and it might hurt.
Client candies are a good trade of if there is a reasonable number of them. And only if they are not breaking the user experience.