Something special happens when you talk to someone about a website they're proud of. Their voice picks up; their eyes grow intent with focus; their hands eagerly reach for their phones.
I've noticed it in a lot of my user research at Squarespace: this connection between a user and their website that extends beyond just a link that stores their content. To so many people that I've talked to, a website is the face they present to the outside world. It's their digital storefront. It's an extension of their personalities. It's their source of income. It's their small corner of the internet where everything is in their control.
A website is their small corner of the internet where everything is in their control.
At Squarespace, I'm the Design Lead on the Styling team. The Styling Team builds the design system that users configure to fully express themselves online. This includes fonts, colors, animations, buttons, generative backgrounds, and more.
These are a few projects I've worked on at Squarespace.
User testing is an extremely valuable way of acquiring knowledge-- but it should not be the only source of truth. We should balance an ear for our users with trust in a design perspective aligned to a core set of product principles.
Offer strong opinions, loosely held
Always have a design recommendation. But hold this recommendation loosely, leaving space for new knowledge, alternate perspectives, and misproven assumptions.
Go with the literal solution
The most obvious solution is often the correct one. We consistently notice that users expect to edit content in tactile, contextual, and highly literal ways. Unique, clever interactions are often not the answer. Simple, boring, and straightforward solutions are.
Set proactive vision over reactive hacks
Take a step back from playing with the pixels and make sure you clearly understand the high-level problems you're solving. Setting aside time to learn deeply about the problem space and collaborate with stakeholders to socialize a product vision will go a long way in rooting every subsequent workstream in a strong thesis.