Thinking beyond the web

A couple of things has shaped the way I approach projects recently. Discussing design with Tim over beers has shed light on a better design process. And seeing Aral Balkan speak at Wuthering Bytes last month has started to change my outlook on the overall work I do.

As designers and developers, an enourmous amount of responsibility rests on our shoulders. Some clients rely solely on their website to generate business and its our job to make that happen. Sometimes that means looking beyond the borders of web design.

During Aral's talk, he talked about this idea of the product only being as strong as its weakest link. This really resonated with me and remembering this helped me on a recent project.

We are in the early stages of a project for a client who plans to sell a product online. We've identified the user needs, mapped out journeys and will soon begin putting together ideas and concepts.

During a meeting, a topic of discussion arose around the instructions included with this particular product. The product is simple to use, but the instructions don't really reflect this simplicity.

We discussed how we could resolve this, first within the boundaries of our medium, as there was an actual use case for instructions being made available online, but leaving this as the only solution didn't sit right with me.

We could put all our energy into creating a great process for consumers to buy the product online but if the users are frustrated by the instructions that come with the product, we've failed. Frustrating customers won't lead to repeat business or referrals.

We'd identified the weak link in the experience and despite product or print design not being our medium, we're still suggesting the instructions are re-done because this will improve the overall experience for the customers.

With some clients this can be an easy discussion, sometimes not so easy. But we're a part of the chain and sometimes it's necessary, even if it doesn't strictly fall under our duristiction, to point out the weakest links to ensure the entire thing doesn't break.