A surprising number of web services applications seem to be built for “users”.
They tend to identify you by username (not by real name) in the apparent intention to “save time filling out another field on the form. The use experience is mostly antiseptic and designed to be efficient, not engaging.
So here’s the number one thing to keep in mind when building a SaaS / web application.
“Imagine you are the web application (in person). What would you tell me (the customer) to do with it”?
What this means is that all the menus, navigations, error messages should be words that you would use to guide me to work with you.
- You will tell me “Sign up” not to Submit.
- You will use verbs (actions) to tell me what to do instead. “Build. Manage. Deploy” instead of “Dashboard. Settings. Reports”.
- You (as a person) will tell me “Date needs to be in DD/MM/YY format” not “There are errors in your application, please review”
- If the user name I chose is likely unavailable, you’d let me know as soon as I enter it rather that after I entered 4 fields and press Sign up to find out
- If you were to welcome me back into your home (your site) you’d say “Welcome Mukund”, and not “Welcome mukund @emailaddress.com“
The most important point I am making is to ensure that as a developer, you keep the human in mind. We like productivity, but we also love nice (pleasant) surprises.
Please do play this mind game with your web application.
Imagine you are talking to a user – as a real person, speaking to another real person. Now, look at your web application again. Do the menus, navigation labels and errors sound like what you’d tell me in person? If not, you have some work to do.
What’s your opinion?