I give you the penny. This video is totally worth the time; I will get back to the article in a second… er, a few minutes:
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with this video in any way
Pennies cost 1.8 cents to make, yet are only ‘worth’ 1 cent. They have no buying power. People hate them. The system does not work. So how do we fix this?
Many say remove them from circulation, as other countries have done, which is a definite solution (good luck on that). Let me offer a second one: stamp out the middle. In turn use the extra material for more coins, and viola! Fixed. Sure, the initial purchase of the machine will cost money, but would pay for itself in no time.
But what does it mean?
(Insert double rainbow reference here)
Most of us use coins everyday. Considering popular opinion that pennies are a nuisance means we, as ‘users of the penny’ are frustrated. Daily. We need to change the system. If we don’t eliminate them altogether, stamping out the center will allow people to not only easily identify pennies against the other coins in your pocket, but we won’t go into the red creating them. While we are at it, we could put holes in other coins to differentiate them as well. Ever have a dollar coin and quarter in your pocket at the same time?
Wait, am I still reading a blog about web usability?
Still with me? Now think of a website. If it, like the penny, is considered a nuisance, no one will use it. If it isn’t easily identified as having value, no one will use it. If it is frustrating, no one will use it. You need to identify site pitfalls and shortcomings and analyze how you can change what doesn’t work. This involves monitoring user habits and determining what users want. After this is identified, offer it! Focus groups and Google Analytics will help here. There are also low cost solutions that will film a first time user exploring your site, thinking out loud to offer an insight into user habits. Keep in mind, as with the penny example above, problems often have more than one solution. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of each to determine maximum effectiveness – Read ROI.
This harkens back to the simplest, and sadly, most forgotten rule:
If something isn’t working, change it. (before your numbers dip!)