Today we launched a new version of our National Career Readiness Certificate website (I think it looks great, even though I didn’t work on it so I can’t take any credit for it).
In the final minutes before launch, we received a request to remove one of the main links from the front page — I’m guessing there was a desire to remove words from the page, reduce clutter, etc. The problem was, our design team thought the link was important…it provided key information we thought the users would find helpful. This type of discussion is difficult to resolve because you’ve got paying clients saying, “we want this,” and you need to find some way to say, “no, I don’t think you really do” without offending anyone’s sense of ownership.
It helps to have some objective metrics or measures that helps move people from an opinion-based discussion to data-driven decision making. We happened to have one. About a month ago, I used CrazyEgg to generate a clickmap of the page. Of the 1000 clicks we recorded, 23% were on the link in question — twice the number of clicks as the second most popular link. That makes a strong case for the fact that the link is something the users are looking for and attracted to when they visit the site, and that it should probably survive the redesign. The client agreed, and the link survived. (We’re planning another set of clickmap measurements to confirm that its still important to have on the new site).
We were able to back up our UX design intuition with some hard numbers and some effective visualizations (clickmaps make pretty pictures that make an immediate impact on clients and stakeholders), to help the team make data-driven decisions about the site user experience. This is something I hope to continue to do in our organization.