The term UX is often heard in conjunction with web design and development but it is widely misunderstood even by those who would define themselves as internet and tech savvy. Here I’ll clarify what exactly UX is and how it can grow the success of your website and online business.
To Put it Simply…
In essence, UX (or User Experience) is all about creating websites where visitors will feel at home and happy. The agenda of UX is to create an environment that is at once fluid and intuitive to navigate but also intriguing enough to keep the user wanting more.
How is this done? A UX designer can be hired to maximize site efficiency by running a series of usability tests. Such tests vary from grabbing the nearest individual and having them surf the site, to eye-tracking systems, heat map tracking, and even algorithms. From the results, the designer can suggest specific structural, design and content changes that will better serve the target audience of the website. The end goal is to increase the likelihood that the site will earn higher rates of traffic, lower bounce rates, increase sales (if e-commerce) and overall serve its purpose.
So, Where Do I Go From Here?
Whether you have the budget for a UX designer or not, there are straightforward guidelines that you can use to get started on evaluating and improving the UX value of your site.
- Know your User. Ensure that your site attracts the population that you are aiming at starting by checking your site’s Google Analytics data. If you mean to pinpoint health-focused middle aged women, but you’re bringing in more male teenage movie goers, then something isn’t right! Take a step back and research the web habits of the user pool you seek, considering what you might add (or remove) to capture and maintain the attention of the right users.
- Clarity is Key. Your user should always know where they are on your site, and know where they can navigate from there. There should be no instance where the user feels lost or insecure about his next move. How is this done? You must constantly keep in mind that the usual and straightforward trumps the innovative and unusual in this business, every time. Consistency and clarity inspire user loyalty.
- Gestalt is your best friend. Successful design of any kind reflects Gestalt theory, which proposes laws that are believed to guide the patterns of human visual perception. The theory is most famous for the concept that the whole of anything is greater than its parts. What does this mean for your website? If your site design and layout aren’t working together harmoniously, your message won’t be conveyed as powerfully as it could be. Check out this great in-depth blog post on all the principles of Gestalt to get you started.
Between website design, content gathering, SEO and evaluating the competition, it can be easy to forgot about the real, human users on the other end. But always remember your user and to put them first. Without users, even the most beautiful website is useless. UX gives us the tools to effectively satisfy our users and encourage them to come back to our sites again and again.
For more information on the subject of UX fundamentals, pick up the classic book, “Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability” by Steve Krug.