What UX can learn from snow
A few months ago I moved from Bristol to the Peak district town of Buxton, where I now work from home most of the time. The snow here has remained solid for well over a week, and as temperature increased to over 0 Celsius for the first time today and the snow started to melt, I noticed some interesting things:
“What’s interesting in that photo?” I hear you cry Well here’s the same photo again with the paths highlighted in Red: The Blue dashes are where heavy footfall has turned the snow into Ice pathways, which hasn’t yet started melting. It’s very clear that where people walk isn’t anywhere close to where the paths were built – and the snow and ice have let us see the locations that naturally achieve the highest footfall. It’s perhaps even more clear from this photo (the path is on the left through the trees – the ice-trodden path goes straight across the miniature railway):
How does this relate to websites?
A lot of website owners assume they know how their users are going to use their sites – entering via the homepage, browsing through categories, and finding their content. The true paths visitors take through your site are often completely different – entering on random pages from search engines, and following whatever route that user finds efficient. Just as the ice-paths above are what’s left behind from thousands of people each choosing their own route through the snow, good use of web analytics can let website owners discover the most commonly trodden paths through their sites, and use that to enhance the user experience.
N.B. this post was guest written post from Tim @ The Viral Ad Network (not me!)