Over the years I have been assured of many things. I have even done my share of assuring others. Yet, assurance is a slippery slope.
At work we recently completed a project in which we evaluated our website with the help of an outside firm. They did a great job. Yet some of their recommendations came too close to assurance for my taste. For example, in reviewing our website’s navigation, they reported with a touch too much confidence that users expect navigation on the left side and not the right side of a website, and thus our navigation is confusing. They included studies from experts and explanations of user eye tracking. That’s fine. It is true that many websites put navigation on the left side. Does this mean that if a person goes to a website with navigation on the right side he will inevitably get confused and browse away until he finds a competitive website with navigation on the left?
Now, I would like to revise the navigation on the website I manage at work. Not because it is on the right side of the screen, but for other reasons. After nearly two years, we have learned some things about our site’s structure and our users’ needs that we did not know when we first designed the site. This new information does not add up to assurance. A couple years from now we will have learned more and need to make more adjustments.
We live in a time when it is trendy to speak both of rapid change and definitive solutions. “Twitter changes everything.” “You should tweet 5 times a day and retweet 10 people a week.” Go to almost any conference for almost any industry and you will hear a keynote speaker assure you everything is changing and then give you the rules to follow because of the change.
Do you want to be a standout in our times? Instead of being known for your assurance, gain a reputation for your level-headed patience.