The user is always right (curse them)

I love this result, and the methodology behind it: The user is always right (curse them)

They made two versions of a home page and served a random one of the two to each visitor to the site. Then they measured how many people clicked through the home page to the other services on the site.

The simple, clean design actually lost out to the more cluttered version. Looking at the page you can see why: the "cluttered" version tells you what the site is all about and how it works. The "clean" version is a bit mystifying – you don't immediately know why the page is there.

The site is HearFromYourMP and you can see the different versions of the home page by clicking the refresh button on your browser.

The point is about measuring effectiveness. We cannot improve without data on how we are doing today. Building measurement into the process tells us what we need to improve and how successful we have been in doing it. Over several iterations the effect compounds itself.

My learned colleague ConfusedOfCalcutta calls this "ready, fire, aim". The point (for me) being that the first "fire", while it might be wide of the mark, at least gives you a calibration point for the first "aim". After several "fire, aim, fire, aim" cycles you should be hitting the target. I will leave you with a story of his on a similar subject: “Don’t ask them what they want, they don’t necessarily know. Show them a Ford Escort and ask them what’s wrong with it. And keep improving it. Quickly”.

The next step is to build some monitoring into the Escort's effectiveness and use that data, not just the user's opinion, when you come to improve it.

(from BlackbeltJones/Work)


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