What makes me dedicate an entire blog post to Einstein.edu's home page usability? The courage that I believe is reflected in the home page layout choices.
All design is a result of a decision- good or bad
Einstein.edu is a medical care provider. Check out this screenshot of their home page (above). Their users, like in many websites (especially B2B sites), are looking to contact a doctor's office or to make an appointment. What is the main task they emphasize, beyond the promotional marquee? Big, bold, huge text and icons...Contact and Make Appointement.
What led Einstein to make this radical design decision that so many organizations, maybe yours, need to make?
"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction." -Albert Einstein
This looks like a simple home page, but based on my experience working with hundreds of organizations and healthcare providers, I believe it took a lot of courage to come to this design decision.
No matter how rational your decision making process, emotion influences your decision. Neuroscience has found that every single decision is colored by emotion (Integration of emotion and cognition in the lateral prefrontal cortex-research pdf). A good user experience decision is one that is guided by a user's emotions (not yours).This means taking a user advocacy position and making a decision based on their needs, context of use and expectations. I was speaking to a designer today about this and she said "oh, they probably just listened to their customers"!
It doesn't take an Einstein to make a good design decision. Yet many organizations will ignore these 5 proven Task-oriented design patterns.
Instead support your users primary task on key screens. Next time, let the user's emotion guide your design decision!
Frank Spillers, MS