9. Rigid Plans Fail
This is the best practice broken most frequently and the area where we see the most failure. Web design and development projects are predictably unpredictable. Focusing on the end user means you have to plan to be flexible. Create interfaces, test them with users and expect to throw away half of what you create in the name of meeting their needs.
It’s possible, though, to swing the pendulum too far the other way and over-plan, leaving little room for input and feedback, or unforeseen issues. Iteration as you’re building a Web application is key: It’s too difficult to strategize the entire project ahead of time. Understand enough to get started, and then gather and act upon user feedback along the way.
Creating engaging user experiences results in increased customer lifetime value. The better the engagement, the harder it will be for customers to switch to your competitors. Their experiences will differentiate your business and increase the value of your brand, and the user experience factor will ultimately increase conversions.
Anthony Franco is president and co-founder of Denver-based EffectiveUI, a user-centered application developer. Reach him on his blog at http://anthonyfranco.wordpress.com or via Twitter @anthonyfranco.