How do you let people know that your office website stinks? Or how do you get them to care?
Let’s say you’ve been at your agency a year or so. You’ve mastered the office layout, and you can comfortably engage in the argument over the best falafel place.
Now let’s say when you open your agency’s website, there’s a problem that sticks out like a sore thumb. If the problem were fixed, the site would be SO much more usable! But what can you do about it? After all, you’re still a small fish in a pond, and all the web design decisions are made up the chain.
Here are some tips to persuade people to listen to you!
1. Prep first
Do some light reading: There are resources about web usability. Jakob Nielsen’s useit.com is an excellent starting point. There’s also Usability.gov, which compiles best practices for government websites and great advice on testing websites.
Learn the history: Is there usability testing in your office already? Ask around. You wouldn’t want to barge down the door only to find out your brilliant ideas will be in the next design. Also, see if there’s a way to look at website’s metrics. This can help increase your own understanding and provide evidence to convince others that changes are needed
2. Ring the bell, spread the word!
Don’t stay quiet: Now that you’re armed with knowledge, it’s time to take the problem up the chain. Use your new-found expertise and the evidence you’ve mustered to make your case. But remember, it may take a while before people see the problems.
Turn failures into conversation starters: The best teachable moments come from when things break. These are the moments when bad design is exposed, and there are opportunities to make changes. Whether it’s your site or someone else’s, treat every bad event as a chance to educate people.
3. Put words into action
Get your site tested: Talk to the First Fridays team about either having our experts evaluate your site, or doing in-person usability testing where stakeholders get to watch users go through their site. The consulting and testing are free!
Get trained: There is a free training program where you can go through the steps of usability testing alongside experts and take that knowledge back to your agency. Bonus — a list of usability resources below provides the basics for doing your own usability analyses.
Talk to others: If you find a website you really love, reach out to the folks who run it. More than likely, they’ll be happy to talk about best practices, tips and tricks, or some of the issues they’ve faced. The community is there — you just need to reach out.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember:
NEVER STOP TESTING.
When you find a site that looks like it’s ten years old, you share it with your friends and have a good laugh, right?
Don’t be that site.
Web design is an ongoing process. There is always something that can improved to make your site function better and be more usable. Seek opportunities to improve the site — you’ll improve user experience, and get noticed in the process.
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