Why You Just Killed Your User Base With That Sexy New Design

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It’s all too often that I see a new company unleash a new design and I immediately think to myself “What the hell they were thinking?” The page may look good from an aesthetic standpoint but when it comes to usability, it’s clear that the company could have improved the way things were laid out. This blog as well has some significant design issues (which are currently being improved) but it doesn’t mean we aren’t paying close attention to the metrics.

When we released the new AllFacebook design earlier this year, we instantly increased email subscriptions by 400 percent. All it took was rearranging where we had the email subscription box located on the page. Often times a designer or an uninformed design client will advise that an important link gets placed in a location which is not immediately visible to new visitors. They do this because they are out of space or because they have an area that they need to fill, however the decision was not driven by usability.

For the longest time I’ve been hesitant to even post about this because usability is a competitive advantage. Facebook for example continuously iterates on their design, undergoes significant user testing, and then slowly rolls out new changes as they monitor the results. Testing at a high level can be costly, however companies like KISSMetrics, CrazyEgg, and others have launched products to make usability testing much more efficient.

While many people think that the positioning of a link, button, or form input is a minor detail, moving something a couple hundred pixels can have a significant impact on user acquisition. Whether you are building an application or a media company, your job is to acquire users and without focusing on making that process as easy as possible, you are only hurting your odds of success. While I’d like to write a more thorough story about usability testing at some point, I’ve found that there are enough people out there that don’t even consider it that I’d write a post about its importance.

Take a look at the most popular blogs from around the web and you’ll see plenty of sites who don’t even consider where their subscription link is. After stumbling across a number of top sites today that have unintuitive layouts, I had to post something about the importance of usability. Here’s to those who consider it on their next iteration!