How user stories can aid your web design process

The users of your site and the customer experience should be at the centre of every decision a you make about your web design.

Whatever the genre of your site (blog, ecommerce or application), the ease of being able to navigate to your product is of the utmost importance. When working in digital industries it can be easy to forget that not all users will have grown up with the same technology, and some may find it a little more difficult to work their way around a website than others.

Writing Your User Story

To understand how a site should look and how a user will be navigating their way round, it’s good practice to devise a user story. User stories help to create a profile of the user, the reasons they could be visiting the site, and the paths they might take to find the information they need. We can explore what the user wants and see how we could best go about making that process as easy as possible for them, retaining a close connection between developer and user.

To demonstrate how developing a user story can help us to connect with the user, let's take the example of an online camera store, such as Jessops. First we need a definitive goal, as viewed from the point of the user. For the purpose of this example, we can assume the end goal is to purchase a product. Let's create a fictitious user and explore what they might from in a site that would allow them to accomplish this. Ours will follow the standard format which is:

As a… [who is the user?]
I need/want/expect to… [what does the user want to do?]
So that… [why does the user want to do this?]

The result may be:

As an amateur photographer looking to upgrade my camera I want to see the latest deals/new camera releases so that I can compare cameras and purchase one.

Implementing The Right features

Taking this story and talking it through with a development team might lead to the following:

  • The best deals should be immediately visible on the home page
  • As should the search button
  • Perhaps a small section showing the latest products added could be displayed
  • This user wants to compare cameras, so perhaps some kind of comparison table to similarly priced products could be on the product page
  • The purchase button should be clear and visible even on smaller devices
  • If there is a brick and mortar store perhaps there should be an option to collect in store at the checkout? This just one example of course, and there may be many user stories per project. What this demonstrates is how thinking about the user can help to dictate a the features and design of a project. A designer is then able to plan according to what the team as a whole have decided is appropriate.

If you would like to talk to us about how best to optimise your website for your users, get in touch with us via our contact page.

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