UX lessons from the Paris Metro

Paris is so beautiful, it takes my breath away. There’s one overlooked beauty that no one ever talks about: the Paris Metro.

The beauty of the Paris Metro is the clarity of its wayfinding system. In two minutes, you can master this system – even if you don’t speak French. Now, that’s what I call intuitive. With 16 lines and 303 stations, the system is huge. Despite its size, it’s easy to find your way.

Each line has two names associated with it – each name represents the last stop on the route. On my last visit, I started and ended every day on Line 11 (Châtelet and Mairie des Lilas). The Châtelet station is in the heart of the city, the Mairie des Lilas station is the final stop, just outside Paris.

The signage is so clear and helpful that you never feel lost even when transferring to other lines. If you have to wait, there is sign telling you when the next train will arrive. The wait was usually less than two minutes.

Takeaway – Finding your way in a new place can be stressful. If you’re creating an app or website, make your navigation intuitive so first time users get it. This takes the stress away and sets the tone for a great user experience.


Like this post?  Share it. Written by Don Seidenberg.

Do you really need the hamburger menu?

By now, you have seen those three horizontal lines lurking in the upper right-hand corner of many websites. Since it looks like a burger, many people call it the hamburger menu.

The hamburger menu is a visual cue. Click or tap it and the navigation appears. Designers like it because it’s visually appealing. Developers like it because it allows them to add more features.

In practice, it’s an obstacle that slows down the customer journey and adds friction to your website.

Let’s take a step back and think why the navigation menu exists at all. It helps visitors find what they’re looking for on your website. Like signage on a highway, it helps them get to their destination.

Clicking or tapping the hamburger menu takes visitors to another page to make a choice. For every page they want to visit, they must return to the hamburger menu and repeat this process.

First-time visitors come to your site looking for something and you’re adding a step to their process. In a world of fleeting attention spans, you’re forcing them to waste their precious time.

While the hamburger menu is unavoidable for cell phones, it’s not for laptops and tablets. Unless you have a compelling reason, don’t do it.


Like this post?  Share it.  Written by Don Seidenberg

Your website is not about you

Dear Marketing Manager,

I am sorry to burst your bubble but your website is not about you. In fact it never was. Your website is about your visitors and the journeys they make within your site.

Your visitors couldn’t care less care about your latest technology. For the last 20 years, they have been hearing about the wonders of every whizz bang technology that came down the pike. And quite frankly they’re tired of it.

Here’s the good part so listen carefully. Although visitors are not interested in your technology, they are very interested in benefits. They like products that help them do something better, quicker and more efficiently.

So don’t sell them cool features and whizz bang technology when what they’re buying are plain and simple benefits.

Make a bridge to their world. Understand who they are and what motivates them. Don’t talk at them, talk to them. Show how your product fits in their life.  And how it helps them do something better, quicker or more efficiently.

Your users are on a journey in your website. It’s up to you to make sure they reach their destination with a smile.


Don Seidenberg

Like this post?  Share it.  Written by Don Seidenberg.

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