I’m in advertising. I’ve run an agency for almost four years now. I’ve worked with clients that range from your average mom-and-pop shop to international distributors and non-profits. And through those experiences, my belief that the way you make users feel while they’re on your site is the key to your success has only been made more concrete.
This sounds obvious. It is. Make something pretty and the people who go there will like it more. They’ll even tell their friends about it. But what happens when you want to get your basic product out there, whether it’s a site, an app, whatever. While the backend may work, and that’s generally what you’re focused on during an initial release, you still need to think about your early users.
Everyone knows that nothing is perfect ever. But your minimum viable product needs to go a bit higher to really gain traction.
Going back to the advertising bit – everything is perception. There are some basic facts in the world. The sky is blue-ish. Your body needs oxygen. But most other things have different meanings to different people. While you want your site to work, you also need to be aware of how people are perceiving it. Do you think that they’d be alright with design that is lacking if the backend is pretty solid from the outset? Will the lackluster design turn them off of your great product? Or will having a great design but a less than stellar product have a more negative impact?
I’m, at least right now, thinking that it’s better to have really solid design and presentation at the outset. My reason being that people go to places, be it on the internet or in their real lives, because of the way it makes them feel. When people are purchasing something, utility matters but how they perceive the product trumps everything else.
Make sure that they are perceiving your product to be worth their time and energy. Even if the backend isn’t where you want it to be, they won’t know that (provided that it’s not absolute crap). All they’ll know when they leave your experience is that it looked great. How many people do you hear walking around campus talking about a cool new function or tool? Not too many. How many times, though, do you hear people walking around talking about how their friends just need to see something?