One of the biggest challenges in UX design, is knowing how to guide users through a website or application, without overwhelming them with information or choices. Today we’ll explore a powerful design principle geared to facilitate intuitive navigation and exploration.

As stated by Joe Krauss, General Partner at Google Ventures, “Your customers cannot digest the full scope of your product in one shot. There is no way. They have neither the interest nor the ability to get the new future that you envision in a single gulp. You have to introduce it to them – one step at a time.”

Regardless of how convinced you are that users will enjoy reading paragraphs of text or being presented with dozens of choices, simplicity always wins. In fact, studies in user psychology have repeatedly proven that reducing choice increases engagement.

Describe vs Discover

When creating a User Interface for a complex website or application, it’s a good practice to start by putting your most important features into two buckets: those that need to be Described to users, and those that should be Discovered.

It’s easy to fall in love with a product and convince yourself that every feature is equally important, but in reality users just don’t have the mental capacity to digest large amounts of information.

The Describe vs Discover formula forces you to think about feature hierarchy, page flow and user pathways, which contributes to a logical interface with an agreeable amount of information (think Apple and the iPhone).

What Gets Described?

Every product needs a hook, or enticing value proposition that grabs attention and convinces users to stick around to learn more. Typically, Described features take visual prominence and serve as initial points of interaction.

Consider these features to be key selling points that can be accompanied by supporting information: descriptions, bulleted lists, calls-to-action, taglines, etc. They are the gateway to your product, and represent the top of your funnel.

What Gets Discovered?

Features that support the main concept or are more task-based, should be left for users to Discover on their own. The goal is to use Described features to get your audience in the door, and map out a fluid User Experience that intuitively guides them through the Discovery process.

It’s important to give your audience respect and credit them with possessing the cognitive ability to learn how to use your product on their own. If a user sees value in what you offer, they will be more than willing to go the extra mile. However, if you bombard them with too many choices you will lose their interest.

In Conclusion

Whether you’re a Founder or UX Designer, the Describe vs Discover process is a highly effective way to streamline the way users experience your product.

by Fuze May 7, 2014