What does a website’s user-experience (UX) and a joke have in common? If you have to explain it, it’s probably not very good.
The goal of every UX/UI (user-experience/user-interface) designer is to make everything as intuitive as possible. From navigation to functionality, color schemes, and everything in between, creating a frictionless browsing experience is as much an art as it is a science. With that being said, there are some fundamental rules should be followed.
In this article I’ll go cover the basics of good website user experience design.
1. Know Why Users Are There
The people that wind up landing on your site aren’t there by accident. Whether they’re looking to gather more information about your company, make a purchase, view a calendar, or any other number of reasons why you’d visit a business’s website, it’s important that you’re designing your UX layout with this in mind.
When in doubt, keep things simple. Generally speaking, the more pages that are on your site, the more complicated your audience’s experience is going to be. If it’s not essential information, it’s probably not worth including.
2. Be Mindful of Eye Movement
A great deal of research has been conducted on the “eye movement” tendencies of website visitors. Though we don’t consciously think about what our eyes are doing when browsing, the data suggests that humans do have a relatively predictable pattern that should be taken into consideration during the design process.
Humans (Americans, at least) tend to consumer online content in an F-shaped reading pattern. If you have vital information it’s probably best to show in the upper-left quadrant of the screen. Not everyone in your audience is going to convert, but everyone should be exposed to a potential “next-step” option without having to search for it.
It’s not exactly breaking news to say that the majority of online content is consumed on a mobile device. Back in the old days – say, 2012, it was conventional wisdom that you should design your web page for an optimal desktop (laptop) viewing experience, and then modify it to work on mobile as necessary. Today, those two things have been switched around.
Newer websites may feel like a mobile site even when viewed on a laptop. Traditional mobile web components like the hamburger menu are no longer just something you see on your phone. The emphasis on keeping things simple for mobile users has proven to have several advantages even when the user is browsing on a bigger screen.
If you’re in the early stages of the UX/UI design process, think about how the site will look and act on a mobile device first, and then make adjustments for laptop users as necessary.
4. Review the Data and Optimize
With the amount of in-depth data available that shows how visitors are interacting with your site, there’s no excuse for not putting it to good use and making optimizations along the way. For example, if you notice that a particular page has an unusually-high bounce rate, that might be indicative that something needs to be modified. Perhaps it’s something simple like updating old content, or fixing a button that isn’t functioning as it should.
If your business relies on your website to generate new leads, not looking at your website’s analytics can mean missing out on potential customers. If your brand has an e-commerce component, it’s even more important to see where users are jumping off your site if they don’t convert.
You might be surprised at how big of a difference a minor adjustment can make to your site’s overall utility and performance. Your site’s analytical data can paint a picture that you never would have otherwise recognized.
5. Content is Key
Today’s advanced algorithms are not only able to judge the frequency in which you update your website’s content, but it also evaluates the quality as well. This is based on how your audience responds when they’re viewing a particular blog post or information page. Though it’s not always a perfect assessment, these machine-learning systems are the framework in which we’re forced to operate.
First and foremost, it’s important that you’re not letting your site’s content get stagnant. If you have a blog page, make sure you’re adding to it on a regular basis and using keywords that have SEO considerations. You want your site to not only be a place where you can generate new business, but as a place that users can consider a resource when they need information about your industry.
Once you’ve updated your website’s content, spread the word via social media. When all components of your digital strategy are working together, you’re setting yourself up for success.
6. Make it Fast
There are a seemingly-endless number of reasons why your website might not be as fast it could (and should) be. From oversized graphics to unclean code, if you don’t carefully optimize everything for speed, you risk slowing everything down.
Not only do users dislike slow websites, SEO algorithms do as well. If you want to rank on Google, your first step should be making sure your site’s speed is up to par. Quick loading times, simple design, and just the right amount of ads can all help you improve in this area.
7. Ask For Feedback
You might think your site is perfect, but if your audience doesn’t agree, your opinion doesn’t count for much. It’s highly recommended that you encourage anyone – friends, family, co-workers, other industry professionals – to visit your site and offer feedback.
In fact, ask them to be critical: What could I do better to improve your experience when you visit my site? Of course you don’t have to follow through on every suggestion, but if multiple people have the same recommendation, you’ve likely found something that needs fixing.
It’s important to keep an eye on your website’s performance and make adjustments based on your findings. There’s a great deal of information that you can gain by looking at user metrics on your site, and this should be the driver of your optimizations. Even minor adjustments can have a significant impact in lowering your bounce rate and encouraging users to take the next step toward becoming a customer or client.
If you’re managing a website that could use an update but you’re not sure where to start, get in touch today for a free consultation.