Here is a simple pre-launch check you should do on all your web applications. It only takes about 5 seconds and one screeshot
“What percentage of your interface contains stuff that your customers want to see?”
If you answer a, or b then you might do well, but you’ll probably get blown out of the water once someone decides to enter the market with option c.
Eoghan Mc Cabe recently posted his thoughts on how Google is becoming the web.
I agree with Eoghan, however I’d still take Googles web over any of their competitors. Let’s assume for a second that someone does trip over a power cord in Mountain View, and as a result we’re all desperate for another web service provider. Who else is providing Mail, Calendar, etc? How many other service providers actually provide you with the stuff YOU want to see…
The two most obvious candidates are Yahoo! Mail and HotMail. Lets have a look at the user experience provided by Yahoo! and Microsoft respectively.
Do you Yahoo!
Now lets gray out everything that someone wanting to read their email actually cares about.
Wow, Yahoo! seem to really value your eyeballs and mouseclicks, but thats about it. Can the Microsoft Hotmail Live Experience do any better?
There is a lot going on there, how much of that is actual content?
For shame! Both of them are quite weak. If I have 2 new emails, Show me, don’t just tell me. As if I am logging in just to check the number of unread emails.
In comparison here is a GMail screenshot of the homepage, with the content that isn’t relevant to me grayed out. (The blacked out bits are peoples email addresses which I don’t want to publicise)
It makes me wonder if Yahoo or Microsoft were ever to design a web stats application, would they have the insight to hire someone of the calibre of Jeff Veen, and would they realise the UI benefits of prioritising your customers goals over your business goals. Or would they just have created this…
Lars conclusion …
“Put the user experience (and not advertising revenue) at the forefront of your UI efforts and the people will flock to you.”