A good friend asked for my feedback the other day for his start-up, still in stealth mode. It’s a finance website with lots of cool ideas, but I thought the website and especially the homepage was a bit of a mess. (He agrees.)
Given a choice between one big feature or many small features, it’s better to have one big feature. You don’t want to be the product that can do lots of little things but nothing great enough for users to remember you by.
People don’t have the energy or desire to understand your product’s nuances; they need to be grabbed right away with that one thing they must know about you.
My friend’s website has a lot of useful tools and interesting content, but it wasn’t well packaged. You don’t know what you’re supposed to do when you first visit it.
When you think about the world’s most popular websites, it’s always clear what they want you to do primarily; the one main path they want you to walk.
On Facebook, it’s the news feed. Sure, there are links everywhere, but visually it’s clear they want you to scroll the news feed. This is the baseline experience on Facebook, and it’s usually a good one. Then when you want to diverge from this path to smaller ones (like viewing a friend’s timeline, event or photo), you can. The complexity is layered and contextual.
It’s obvious what Facebook wants you to look at
On Google, it’s the search box. They don’t want you to do anything really except type something to search. Google doesn’t drown you in links and content like their portal competitors once did.
Search + portal versus just search…just search won
The same principle applies to mobile apps. Flipboard asks what topics you’re interested in and once you’ve answered all that’s left to do is read. Swipe up and down to browse; tap to view in more detail.
We made the mistake of presenting too many paths in an earlier version of feecha. We had too many views and functions: map view, list view, chat view, single story view, multiple story view, create feecha, search, search results, store view, item view, people following and followed, topics followed, achievements, profile, etc. I’m probably still missing a few!Phew! Listing all that brings back nightmares. Not only was it extremely confusing for users as they had to learn each view and how everything flowed; it was also a bear to design and develop. The app looks great and runs great but the underlying design architecture was simply flawed.
Compare that with the current version of feecha. We cut a lot of features and designed around one usage scenario: browsing a neighborhood’s content feed. Swipe to get the next story. Tap to view in more detail. Swipe sideways for menus.
That’s it! You’ve now mastered navigation on feecha.
(Note: feecha on Android has an extra chat view.)
One last example, this time from the physical world. What does IKEA sell exactly? Usually, boxes containing alien-looking pieces that you must assemble to make something usable.
But when you walk into IKEA, do you see these boxes for sale? No, what you see are fully realized rooms complete with assembled furniture. The shopping experience is a carefully guided path; there’s generally one way to go and IKEA made sure it’s a fantastic one.
IKEA is a great example of communicating what they’re about in an immediate and impactful way: good looking cheap furniture; not boxes of stuff.
A great website and a great app are like an IKEA shopping experience. Without all the actual walking.