Your app is a creek and users are water

A creek ran through my childhood property. Sometimes the movement of my creek would slow due to tiny mud slides and other miniature natural disasters. To allow the water to flow more freely, my friends and I shoveled clear mud, sticks, and rocks clearing the creek.

What I’ve learned about usability of websites/apps is that users are a lot like the water that flows through a creek, and the creek is the app. Through testing, analytics, and design improvements you will watch your users move faster and farther through your app, just like how we moved mud and rocks from the creek.

Here’s a simple non-data-driven way to quickly evaluate your site for blockage: Go through your web app and at each screen ask yourself, where is the obvious button to click or action to complete? If you don’t immediately know, then that page may be causing blockage in the user flow. Check to see if your analytics supports this hypothesis.

The general rule to avoid mud and rocks in your web app is to always have one or two primary actions per section, view, or page.

The primary action of some views is to scroll. In this case it is best to show a cropped content point at the bottom of the screen or browser. Without anything to do other than to see more, the user will innately scroll your website.

If you require three or more options, then suggest a primary path. You can highlight a section with a background color, brighter and bigger button, specific title, or horizontal rule. Essentially, make the primary action stand out through color, size, and positioning.

By following these few simple rules, you should see longer visit duration times and increased conversions. Just like my creek flowed fast and wide when we cleared the rocks, your users will move through your app at a higher velocity.

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