Shooting the Hippo (metaphorically) – How to put the User First

Published on July 13, 2018 by Alex Eade

How many times has a website annoyed you?

How many times has it been difficult for you to find what you need on a website?

We’re guessing at least a few times!


The problem is usually poor user design, and this problem is usually caused by a Hippo.

Not a Hippopotamus, nor a hippodrome. Not even the fear of long words, which ironically is HippopotomonstrosesquiPPedaliophobia.

This guy is not at fault…


This Hippo, is a completely different beast – the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion. In other words, what the boss thinks.

…this guy (or girl) is!


The boss shouldn’t decide what their company’s website looks like. Fair enough, they can have some input, but the people who should decide are the users. The people who will actually use that website to do things.

We believe that putting the user first in web design start with eradicating that opinion (not the boss, they can stay).


How to Put the User First


  1. Remove everything that isn’t elephant.

Bear with us, we’re not starting a zoo. Removing everything that isn’t elephant is an analogy that’s been floating around for years. If you want to create a statue of an elephant, simply grab a block of marble, and chip away the bits that aren’t elephant, until you have one. In the case of a website, you want to look at what you’ve already got, and then chip away all of the bits that don’t contribute to good user design, until you’ve got something users will go ape over (still not starting a zoo).


  1. Put yourself in your users’ shoes.

Don’t look at your website with your big boss business hat on, look at it with your user hat on. If you’re selling things to busy people, don’t make the user journey a million miles long. If you know people are going to want to book a test drive, then include a massive button with ‘BOOK A TEST DRIVE’ on it. Simple. Make it easy for people to do what they need to do with your website.

No navigations based on Pan’s labyrinth please. Nobody will thank you for it.

  1. Actually ask users.

A fairly obvious one, but think about how many people outside of your business have given you real feedback on your website? Do you know what people like or dislike about your site? Do you know where the usability problems are? How often do you even look at your own website? A great way to really understand what to include for users is to get some people testing out your website, get their feedback, and start hypothesising how to improve things.

Usability and user-based design are SO important for websites, we really can’t stress it enough.

Why not take a detour from looking around our site, and go check out your own (with your user hat on) you might be surprised with what you find.


Written by Alexandra Eade, Content Manager