Designing for customisable sites

Yesterday I held my talk at uxcamplondon on how to enable users to customise their site whilst avoiding a usability nightmare (both for them and for their future visitors).

It was a pretty interesting discussion, and a few ideas came out of it that I want to share with you all:

  1. Don’t offer the user total control, offer them the feeling that they’ve just successfully designed a site according to their own preferences.
  2. Customising sites should be a quick, fun and enjoyable experience, after which users should go on with the reason they came to use your site in the first place.
  3. Just because site editors are built in a certain way (for example colour pickers), doesn’t mean you should just reuse that pattern. Think a step further, how you can steer the user in the direction of good design.
  4. Although the request might be for a site editor, a customisable template might do the job as well.
  5. If you build an editor with many features, you will attract people who love even more features.
  6. Tools do push a certain design, don’t give a user too much rope.

A decent write up of this presentation is still in the pipeline, but meanwhile here is my slideshow.

If you have any examples from your own experience or come across other sites with great customisation tools, please share it in the comments.