The JyMob Blog

Musings of the founder of a failed startup

User Experience Comes First

I am no expert on user experience. But I am a passionate programmer. I care for the users who (will) visit my website. I think your users are your asset – more important than your (paying) customers. This is simply because they help you create one of your value propositions – data. Unless you are meticulous about their experience, you won’t be able to create lasting value.

This short post is about how thinking about users changes the way you design your programs. A few hours ago, I was trying to associate a company or an organization with a user who signs in to my website. A way to associate users with organizations is by using a drop-down list. If you search the web for use of drop-down lists, you will see sane advice that drop-down lists are not a good choice especially for lists with more than say a dozen items. However, I thought I liked the ease-of-use selecting an item from a list instead of keying in the name of that item. But when I thought of a growing list of companies to choose from, I decided against using it. Instead, I resorted to a simple text-field, where a user would add her company and then I’d save it to the database for later use. In my opinion, this worked really well. I did not have to make excessive use of JavaScript or styling to make the long lists user-friendly. I just removed them. This made me think of structuring my models and associations a little bit differently.

The point I am trying to make is thinking of user interface actually changes the way you design your internal data structures and model interactions. And my experience has been that a simpler design of these internal machinations usually emerges by thinking of how a user would interact with them on a website. This is even more applicable to the user experience of your website on hand-held devices.