Navigate the Way the User Desires

Navigate the Way the User Desires

How effective Desire Line approach is in User Experience?

Providing an intuitive user experience is one of the most critical ingredients in the success of any products or services in this high demanding new age. The impact is not only blissful for the users but also lucrative to the business, apparently. Yes, the impact is two-folded.

Every $1 invested in UX yields a $10 to $100 return
(Courtesy: Human Factors International, Inc.)

User Experience (UX) design is the process of creating products that provide meaningful and persuasive experience to the users. UX designers consider the aspects such as Why (to understand the users’ motivations for adopting a product), What (things can do with a product) and How (designing the experience in a usable and aesthetically pleasing way) in order to elicit the best user experience. Or, in other words, the cornerstone of a good user experience is the effective converge of the above three – that is adjacent to User-Business-Technology side of it.

UX designers usually spend a fair amount of time in conducting user research, creating user persona, defining customer journey map etc., using various data gathering methodologies. This helps the designer to observe the deep-seated user behaviour and their mental model during the user empathizing stage. Based on these data and insights the user experience is defined and incorporated onto the products. Nevertheless, there will be gaps in terms of expectation of the end user’s Vs how the product is designed. This human-system or in other words mental-conceptual model conflict can be addressed only by observing and understanding how the users are using the product in their context. Of course, navigation plays a prominent role in overall user experience.

‘Desire Line’ or ‘Cow Path’ is a powerful technique to define effective navigation by tracking and identifying user behaviour. The concept was originally coined by one legendary architect who built a home, after completing it, he decided to leave the courtyard and other grassy areas around the building without walkways. The idea was to let people to walk freely using the lawn area for a year. After couple of months, their use formed trails in the grass. Then laid the walkways on top of those paths. The interesting takeaway from this is that instead of paving the walkway in a way he thought would be good, he gave importance to how someone would use the walkway – the way they think easy and efficient.

The same technique can be leveraged when defining navigation structure in digital products as well. Tools like Google Analytics, Mix Panel, Hotjar etc., can be used to discover patterns and desire lines using heatmaps and cookie tracking. This is the surest way to know what the users really want. Observing the natural user behaviour is much more accurate indicator of inherent users’ need. Forming that deep understanding of the user behaviour will guide you take informed user experience decisions to design appropriate navigation structure and overall usability way better.

So, when you define a navigation structure next time, make sure you apply Desire Line technique. Your users will LOVE IT!



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