What washing machines can teach us about designing websites

Have you ever bought an expensive new washing machine, but felt so frustrated when using it for the first time? All the options and settings left you feeling overwhelmed.

I’m sure that many washing machine manufacturers don’t do product user testing or user research. ‘The simplest washing machine to use’ could be a great USP ????

Washing clothes shouldn’t be difficult. And yet it becomes so when we have too many decisions to make about what setting to choose.

I bet that most people never read the manual and only ever use one or two settings because that’s what works and that’s what they understand! You might even regret your expensive buy, wishing instead you’d chosen something ‘less fussy’.

What can the usability of washing machines teach us about web design?

When it comes to designing websites, simplicity, ease-of-use and clarity are the goals. We design websites for people to use.

If a person gets confused, lost or frustrated on your website they will likely leave and go somewhere else. That means you’ve lost a potential sale or client to your competitors because your website was hard to use.

Improving a website’s usability is about:

  1. Understanding your users and their needs.
  2. Reducing the number of choices/decisions a user needs to make.
  3. Simplifying where possible.
  4. Eliminating distractions.
  5. Reducing the amount of information.
  6. Providing clear direction.
  7. Using simple language that people understand.

Go take a look at your website now. Pretend you’re viewing it for the first time. How does it make you feel?

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