Currently, software at IU adopts Rivet while marketing sites use the IU Web Framework. But the new design system will be built for both audiences.
How are these audiences different?
Comparing the audiences for software and marketing pages, the audience for software visits a page with a specific task in mind, while the audience for marketing sites is often just looking for information (Vertical Leap).
For example, a student visits iGPS specifically to add courses to their shopping cart, while also visiting various IU websites to find courses that fulfill their GenEd requirements. Note that the two different audiences do not mean two different groups of people; an individual could be an audience for both software and marketing sites.
The following two points, Alternatives and Bounce Rate, are derived from the difference in purposes users have.
The number of alternatives users have for their tasks differs between the two audiences. Often times visitors of marketing sites have other alternatives when looking for information, while software audiences do not have alternatives to the tasks they are trying to achieve. This means that users of software are “stuck” with the tool that they are using.
Users could be overwhelmed when dealing with more information than they can process to make sensible decisions. Information Overload leads to a) users delaying decision making and b) users making the wrong decision.
To combat Information Overload, a website could focus on what the users need to know and the quality of information, keeping the users’ mind focused on one task at a time, and being direct in the questions asked to users (such as filling in forms). (Infogineering)
Marketing sites have a higher bounce rate compared to software sites. The bounce rate for content websites is 40-60%, while the bounce rate for service sites are 10-30% (Neil Patel). Bounce rate is not necessarily a bad thing; it could mean one of three things (Yoast):
The quality of the page is low
The audience doesn’t match the purpose of the page
The visitors have found the information they were looking for.
The difference in bounce rate between the two sites could be attributed to the points above. Marketing websites have a higher bounce rate as users have more alternatives so the user quickly leaves the website if they think they could find better information on another site.
How do the needs of these audiences differ?
As software audiences focuses on completing a specific task, they want to accomplish the desired task most efficiently. This could be broken down into the following sub-goals which are layered; the software has to achieve the first goal before it can achieve the one after (Muzli):
The software needs to be useful
The user has to navigate the software easily
The user needs to be satisfied with the experience of using the software
The use of the software becomes a habit/second nature
The user promotes the software (word-of-mouth)
On the other hand, marketing site users focuses on finding information and matching their expectation with the site’s content. A few goals of this audience include (Writtent):
Knowing the value of the product
Answering questions the audience has
Seeing specific call-to-actions for the audience to interact with
The needs between the two types of audiences significantly differs. The former focuses more on the seamless user experience when navigating the piece of software while the latter focuses on the content laid out on the website.
However, despite the differences in goals and needs between the two audiences, there are similarities between the needs and expectations of them. As mentioned above, the two types of audiences could be the same person in real life. Consistency across software and marketing sites could help reduce confusion for users. There are four parts to consistency (UX Collective): Visual consistency, functional consistency, internal consistency, and external consistency. All these craft for usable, predictable, and learnable software and websites.
The UX Office has encouraged consistency for a long time, and design systems like Rivet provides a way for designers, developers, and testers to build a consistent product for users. It also benefits them as the learning curve for using a new product is significantly reduced through consistent experiences. Designers need to be aware of the following four types of consistencies when crafting a product:
This refers to consistency for the visual elements across different products, including fonts, buttons, colors, labels, and so on. Visual consistency across products increases learnability for users. In IU’s case, visual consistency also triggers a sense of belonging to the school.
Currently, IU Framework and Rivet have different visual designs with button shapes, layouts, and more. Most notably, the use of colors differs. In the recent release of IU Login, some students voiced concerns over the blue buttons as it did not match with the crimson color they have seen with the previous CAS login design.
This refers to how similar controls should function the same across different products. For example, how a user steps back in a flow should be the same across all products. Following the same vein, similar design elements should not be used for different functions. Functional consistency increases predictability of a product.
For example, the IU Directory main page features a search bar for users to find a person’s information. On the search results page, the user sees search results and another text box. Users often mistake that box as the search bar when it actually only filters results. The mismatch of visual design and functionality leaves users frustrated.
Internal Consistency combines visual and functional consistency in product design, meaning that the product should still feel familiar to your users even if you introduce new pages or features.
This refers to consistency across different products or services, which means users can reuse knowledge of one product in another. Adobe products demonstrates this: Once you’ve learned one Adobe product, it’s often easier to use their other products (UX Collective). By providing a consistent design system, Rivet provides IU software with external consistency.