A large part of developing great products takes place by curating your taste for what makes a good product while you build it. A shortcut to build this taste it to constantly be looking at the software we use with a critical eye and asking ourselves why did they design this the way they did, and more often than not, asking what the hell were they thinking.
The easiest mistake is to avoid is to including too much information or irrelevent information on a screen. Often we include information almost sub-consciously. We saw a competitor do it, so we automatically assume we need to do it too.
For example let’s say you have a conference cataloging website and you want users to view and attend more conferences. When they view the details of a conference, how do you decide what to display, if anything, after actual conference details?
Does it make sense to show a “Recently Viewed” or a “Related Conferences” list?
The answer is not one or the other. The answer is to look at this from the perspective of what is your goal for users on that page in that work flow?
If the goal is to get users to browse more conferences so you can hopefully sell them more conference tickets, then it makes sense to show them other conferences.
If the goal is to find more information about one specific conference then sending them off to other conference detail doesn’t help them at all. Would a map of the conference, a list of other people attending, or previous year’s talk videos be more valuable?
Then think through any technical aspects. Can you show good enough related conferences that would actually be of use to people? Just because I’m looking at a python conference in New York…does that mean I’m interested in one in Texas?
Documenting your goals for each screen helps focus you on the core purpose of the screen and helps you from adding unnecessary information.