Listen. Change what you do. Make people happy.

You can’t bullshit web users. They’re determined to get what they want as fast as they can. If you don’t give it to them they’ll find it somewhere else. Listen to what users want and give it to them in the easiest, most direct way possible. If you’re not doing that already, you’re doing something wrong. You need to change what you do. You need to do it now.

Users first. Design second.

When we’re designing the 狮城攻略 (http://scgl.sg) website, a portal for finding information on living in Singapore. We approached the project based on what users wanted. This involved months of research prior to starting design – from doing keyword and competitor analysis. And it meant we all needed to be open to completely imagine what and how the content can be presented.

The final result is designed to give customers relevant information in a clear, concise way. We gave them the option to do more research and the tools to sign up for a course. As a result, user research and site analytics have shown that more people are spending more time on the site, and they’re finding what they need more easily.

Designing with people in mind

Thinking about the end-user has always been one of the foundations for building a great digital experience at Otaku. It’s been drilled into me since I started here as a designer five years ago. I don’t just make stuff look pretty. I think about who’s using a website and design for them. To do that effectively I need to recognise the audience and listen to them, even when the feedback is mostly negative.

Listening is the key

We’re here as a company to meet our clients’ objectives and keep them happy (obviously). But they’re not the ones using their own websites. Their customers are. Before we begin creating a great-looking and functional website, we find out as much as possible about their customers and their online behavior. We gather this information from similar websites, from online user statistics, by doing surveys, user testing, talking to people on the street or people in the office that fit the customer profile.

“One night it hit me – ‘listen and change’. This applies to designers and clients. It adds value for our clients when we’re producing their websites and it makes their customers happy. But what if this approach applied to everything out there?”

Improve their experience

I know some companies have customer feedback forms on their websites but what if the feedback was instant. What if companies weren’t scared to hear it upfront and change immediately? Think of it as a rapid response.

Imagine if the person at the cash register at the local supermarket didn’t ask you how your day was but asked you how your shopping experience was and if there was anything the store could do to improve it. And this information was gathered somehow and changes were made on an ongoing basis. I think we’d have pretty amazing supermarkets and great customer shopping experiences.

If this idea were applied to other parts of our lives we’d all be happier people.

Build better products and relationships

I’m not talking about totally reinventing yourself. Just let people know you’re taking the time to listen to them. Swallow your pride a little. Let them know you care about them enough to change and show them you have. They will like you more for it.

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