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The mee goreng principle

A lot has been said about User Experience and how critical it is to the success of any web site. I couldn’t agree more. Here is an example of what I mean:

I’m in an Asian restaurant for the first time today. I’ve been past it, looked at the menu in the window but never went in.

At the door I inform the hostess/owner that I only have 30 minutes to eat. She tells me that I have plenty of time. Looking over the menu, I notice a Singapore Mee Goreng. The Indian version at Rasa Sayang is one of my all-time favorites. Same ingredients? Yes. I go for it.

What I got was not at all what I expected. It looked different from what I really wanted, but it was vaguely recognizable so I muddled through. I was in and out in 20 minutes. Great.

What does that teach is about user experience? Simply put, user experience is the interaction between the user’s expectations and the business objectives within a particular medium.

So let’s break it down: I came in wanting to be served quickly. I communicated that clearly and the restaurant responded to my needs. They know that about me. You can also know that about visitors to your site. What kind of people are they? Why are they there? How can you as a business satisfy that demand and meet or exceed those expectations?

The next point is the dish itself. Before you launch into me, I know full well that the restaurant had no way of knowing that I was actually looking for a dish from another eatery. And I also know that there are a brillion ways to make Mee Goreng. But what the restaurant could have done was to minimize the surprise by having a picture of the dish on the menu. Some of the more fast-foody Asian establishments do exactly that. It’s the same for your users. How can you minimize surprises and make sure that the user is aware what’s coming next?

The use of good, simple navigation, grouping your information in logical, germane categories and creating a user interface that prepares the user for the next step of the interactive process are good ways to achieve this goal.

So, I’ll be back at Hunan Asian Cuisine for sure. Will I order the Singapore Mee Goreng? Probably not.