Just over a year ago Victor Ramirez gave a great presentation at WordCamp Atlanta about how he was managing blocks for Dow Jones, who use the new WordPress editor as the backend to all of their publications. He described a block they created for the byline that made it 1 million times easier for the writers to use.
The success of the byline block was due to the creating a process that the user was used to. The initial idea was to give the user a drop down list of all the authors available. This solution was untenable due to the large number of authors. Instead they took a page from Facebook’s friend search. In this case as you start typing the authors name it would show results that match the name. A little extra development work created a solution that users were already used to.
He had a great analysis that developers and designers might consider when building websites/apps: think of the Domino’s website as your competition. The user experience of the Domino’s website is a very engaging experience (as long as you can see). From start to finish the website keeps you aware of the process and doesn’t try to force you into a new way of doing things. It is an experience that users enjoy and look forward to.
Is it possible to make all websites and apps like the Domino’s website? Maybe not, but it seems useful to think of websites and apps outside of your industry as competition. People only have so much time in the day. At some-point they may have to decide between spending time on your interface or Domino’s.