When building a web site, all sorts of UIX experts tell me that I have to wireframe websites, and then use video to watch people using them to optimize the (sarcasm on) user experience (/sarcasm off). UIX is king.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I follow the Google sect of online design -- a super powerful website with minimalist design. When you abstract to the layer of why have a website, you come up with two answers: to sell and to inform.
The primary raison d'etre for a business is to sell. So never mind all of the booshwa design crap for a minute. Malcolm Gladwell tells us that people thin slice -- make a decision within the first thirty seconds. I was told that when I wrote for a major outdoor magazine. You have to capture them in the first thirty seconds. Your value proposition will do that.
So if I am a business, and the sole purpose of my website is to sell and inform, then the landing page of my website has to boldly proclaim my value proposition. Let me repeat that: the landing page of my website has to boldly proclaim my value proposition.
When my value proposition is accepted by the surfer, I have to account for two alternate possibilities. That is where UIX comes in. The first possibility is that I have made the sale. You have to get the customer to get to the buy zone quickly. The second possibility is that I have sold the value proposition, and now the consumer wants details. Simple. (There is a third possibility in the fact that my value proposition bombed, but then the surfer is off elsewhere and out of the equation).
So, I have to unambiguously give the consumer the immediate buy option or arrange the information to answer the putative questions in his/her quest for more information. I have to arrange it such that the most frequently asked question is answered first.
Psychologists tell us that we like a lot of choice when it comes to menu items, but more than 4 or 5 choices actually hinders the buy process.
So the navigation and usability of the website hinges on providing more information to support the value proposition. In a general sense you can't go wrong with W-5 - Who, What, Why, Where and When. When is always NOW, so HOW can be substituted. And of course, you need a call to action. If you don't ask, you won't get.
The above graphic illustrates these principles completely. You don't need to pay big bucks to a UIX expert to produce wireframes and usability reports. Most consulting work is applied common sense. When usability experts fail, is that they are not subject matter experts in whatever you are selling. They would tend to put the specs and fine print in the back, but if you are selling electrical couplings and such, those data sheets are what is required up front. Or they would spend $10,000 filming someone using wireframes to discover what you already know.
If you put considerable amount of forethought into the value proposition and how the user gets to the supporting information, then you have already mastered the Dummies Guide to Extreme UIX.