Customer Centered Design Myths

  • Good Design is just common sense. Why are there so many bad sites? Web design teams have to remember they are not the customer. They cannot predict how customers will think or act.
  • Only Experts Create Good Design.
  • Web Interfaces Can be Redesigned Right before Launch.
  • Good Design Takes Too Long and Costs Too Much. The customer-centred design does add some up-front costs because you have to talk to customers, make prototypes, get feedback on prototypes, etc. But it reduces back-end costs - the costs incurred as a result of responding to customer dissatisfaction. Reduces total development time and costs because it focuses on finding problems in the early stages of design,
  • Good design is just Cool Graphics. Graphics are only on part of the larger picture of what to communicate and how.
  • Web Interface Guidelines Will Guide You to Good Design. These are a good checklist but they only address how the site is implemented not what features the site should have the organization of the site or the flow between individual web pages.
  • Customers Can Always Rely on Documentation and Help. These are important but customers are not patient enough to sift through them to find help.
  • Market Research Takes Care of Understanding Customer Needs. It is helpful for understanding customer attitudes and intentions but does not explain customer behaviour. What the customer does with an interface is critical.
  • Quality Assurance Groups Make Sure that Web Sites Work Well. The purpose and focus of quality assurance are different from those of customer-centred design. Software testing is often technology-driven, not customer-driven.
  • When technology becomes the central factor in web design, it becomes technology for technology's sake.
  • Avoid using computer-based tools in the early design stages. Iterate more and explore the design space more broadly on paper.
  • Avoid gold plating the site (making it perfect before deploying), deploy features in stages, and plan for future growth.

Discovery - Customer Analysis Document


    1. Discovery
    2. Exploration
    3. Refinement
    4. Production
    5. Implementation
    6. Launch
    7. Maintenance
  1. The motivation of customers to visit the site or the value proposition
  2. Task analysis of intended customers, describing the people, their tasks, the technologies they use, and their social and organizational issues.
    •  People - who are the customers? What are their interests? What are their ages? Etc.
    • Tasks - What tasks do your customers do on other sites? What do they come to your current website to do? What specific tasks do they want to do there? Etc.
    • Technology
    • Social issues

Business Analysis Document

  1. Business plan- business goals of the site and client's needs
  2. Competitive analysis- determines features of competition's sites and identifies features important to customers. What is the competitive advantage of the site (high-level goals)
  3. Metrics for success- how will success be measured? Examples: attract customers, keep them coming back, the conversion rate of visitors to customers

Requirements/Specifications Document

  1. Project Description- describes the common purpose and ultimate goals for client and customer
  2. List of Tasks, Scenarios, Storyboards- number of tasks depends on the complexity of the proposed work. Label tasks as easy, moderate or difficult
    Comprehensive List of Proposed Features - 'must haves', 'should haves', 'could haves'. Use competitive comparisons, surveys, market research. Each feature should have a statement on how it will be evaluated or tested.
  3. Overall design Goals
  4. Metrics- measure if the team reached goals and requirements. State how features will be evaluated in the final site.

Be Brief and concise, use lots of diagrams, make it interesting because these documents are often tedious to read.


  • Generate and explore designs, reflect ideas on-site structure and navigation.
  • Generate several prototypes.
  • Deliverables: site maps, storyboards, and schematics (in sets). Each set shows a design alternative addressing issues in customer analysis document, business analysis document and specifications document


  • Choose one idea and develop it further. Highly detailed prototype. Refine, detail and informally test the design. Break the site down into classes of pages.
  • Deliverables: one site map, storyboard and schematic (in more detailed form than previous).


  • Interactive prototype, written descriptions, guidelines, and specifications.
  • Include as much detail as possible on layout, navigation, visuals and content for each page.
  • Deliverables:
    • design document -describe how the site works in great detail.
    • Interactive prototypes
    • Technical specifications
    • Design guidelines - general rules to prevent inconsistencies
    • Writing style guide


  • Create parts of the site to create a polished and fully functional site
  • Determine naming conventions for files and folders
  • Useful tools - revision control system, bug tracking database
  • Test site rigorously
  • Deliverables: completed sites, maintenance document, test plan document, updates

Launch Phase

  • Minor polishing:
  • Check for spelling and grammar errors
  • Verify all links
  • Check for broken images


    • Changing code and fixing bugs.
    • Collecting usability and satisfaction metrics
    • Verify all links
    • Check for spelling and grammar errors
    • Ensure pages follow design guidelines
    • Periodically backup site
    • Update FAQ
    • Check team is writing for search engines
    • Maintain server logs
    • Deliverables:
      • Periodic website metrics (total hits, conversion rates, number paying customers, usability evaluations)
      • Bug reports
      • Periodic backups

Writing for Search Engines

Write distinctive page titles for every page.

Write keyword-filled descriptive text near the top of each page. Include keywords in context.

Use keyword meta tags for:

  • Terms customers use most frequently
  • Main site themes
  • Synonyms
  • Common misspellings

Make the site accessible to web crawlers (similar barriers as for site accessibility).

Use robots.txt file

Strategies to avoid:

  • Repeated keywords
  • Keywords that do not describe the content on the site
  • Keywords owned by other sites
  • Coloured text the same as the background colour to hide words
  • Repeated URL submissions to search engines
  • Fake pages for search engines
  • Slow pages
  • Pages with the same HTML title
  • Pages with the same content but different URL
  • Special characters in URL (& and %)

This page contains information I gathered and thought were very useful. See more notes on design.

Just to let you know, this page was last updated Sunday, Jun 23 24