When it comes to building a website or any type of software, it’s important to make as few assumptions about how you think people will use your product as possible.  (This is especially important if you want to be taken seriously by veteran software developers and Internet entrepreneurs, who are very big on the concept of split testing everything (read about that here).

But what do I mean when I say that you shouldn’t make assumptions about user-behavior?  Here’s an example of funny user-behavior that I wouldn’t have predicted, but that I learned about today.  Apparently there is a not insignificant number of people out there who think that every link on the Internet requires a double-click – in other words, they treat all links as if they were icons on a desktop, and they rapidly click them two times whenever they want to use them.  This is harmless behavior, of course, because it doesn’t prevent anyone from accomplishing their goals on the Internet.  But there is an nearly infinite number other behaviors, some of which are harmful, and if you tried to guess them all in advance you’d fail miserably.  

Here is an example of a more harmful behavior.  Google redesigned its Chrome Internet Browser because they noticed that a lot of people were attempting to type search terms into the URL field.  With a normal browser, that would be a very frustrating experience.  Rather than trying to educate those folks on how to use the browser properly, Google simply enhanced their browser so that people could type search terms into the URL field.  

The point is, people will use your website the way that makes sense to them, not you.  And if you listen to what they have to say, you can make your website a much nicer place to be. 

Will Marlow co-founded AlumniFidelity to help his clients reposition their fundraising to benefit from Web 2.0 technology and marketing techniques. He’s working with clients such as UVA, the College of William & Mary, the University of Oklahoma, Bowling Green State University, Randolph Macon College, and he loves nothing better than a thorny marketing challenge.  Read more about Will Marlow here, or email him at