When the overall quality of a digital experience feels low, but I can’t quite put my finger on it, I’ve found that it often stems from one of two secret weaknesses that plague many product teams: lack of confidence and lack of trust.
Lack of confidence
The kind of confidence I’m talking about is an internal calm, not an external bravado. You have to believe that you have appropriately guided users to the right moment in the journey, that the offering you are making to them is valuable, and that you can deliver on what you’ve promised.
Teams that don’t have this confidence never truly guide their users down a path. The experiences they build make the user feel followed down a long hallway full of doors. And all along the way, the team is constantly pointing out those doors. Banner notifications and promotional modules and pop-over modals that say “Hey, that thing you’re doing right now seems great, but did you know there’s this other thing we do over here? You know, just in case you decide you don’t like what you’re doing now. Or whatever. We have a lot of options! Please like us and buy something, or not, you know, whatever.”
Lack of trust
The trust is external. You have to trust your users and honor their intent. Users signal intent by the things they click on, the answers they provide, and the path they choose to follow.
If they’re on the premium plan page, trust that they are interested in learning about the premium plan. If they are going down a DIY path, trust that they want to walk that path and don’t need you to recommend expert assistance (or vice-versa). The wrong lesson to take away from “every page is page one” is treating every page like your awful homepage which is full of business-centered announcements, promotions, and updates. On every single page, you need to empower your users with tools to navigate to what they need (e.g. a great, user-needs-centered primary navigation, persistent search, breadcrumb navigational landmarks to help them orient, etc.) instead of treating them like lost children looking for their mommies.
Design with confidence. Trust your users. Your experience will be better for it. Trust me 😉