The time has come to build or rebuild your company’s website. During your initial research, you’ve likely come across the concept of UX and found out that it’s important to the success of your site. What exactly is UX and how is it integrated into the development of your new website, or used in the reinvention of your existing one?
UX = User Experience
First, the abbreviation “UX” in the term UX design is short for “user experience.” What exactly does user experience mean? It’s literally how the user feels and reacts when interacting with a digital product, like a desktop or mobile website.
A straightforward example of user experience from a web design and development perspective is when using a website intuitively makes sense to the user. Intuitive UX design provides an overall positive digital experience for the user and creates a positive brand experience.
When a website has great UX, you won’t even notice it — its design is intuitive and flows well. A bad UX creates user reactions from slightly annoyed to complete bafflement. Businesses want their website users to have a seamless experience as they’re busy clicking away, researching products or services, making purchases, and filling out contact forms, not struggling to find the information they need against a design that doesn’t make sense to them.
UX Design Applies to Any Product, Service, or Website
Let’s take something that you absolutely love to use, say a photo app for your smartphone. You snap a high-quality photo of your crew or a nature scene, open it in the photo app, get creative with filters, crop it, and post it. You share it on popular social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Now you’re looking like a photo pro or a serious hobbyist. The app functioned smoothly.
In the journey you’ve just taken to snap, edit, and upload your photo, you’ve experienced the underlying beauty of a good UX design. The app was intentionally designed and refined with you, the user, in mind. Understanding your habits, what feels natural, and how each action required research by the UX designer with the intention of your having a pleasant experience using the app.
The Psychology Behind UX
When a web design and website development team creates or audits a business website, they research the users’ preferences to see what can possibly affect and influence a user’s interaction on the site.
Don’t forget that there are psychological underpinnings to the user experience. Psychology can be a powerful tool, and understanding what makes your users tick is a benefit when you’re developing your business website strategy and your design. It’s about the ability to understand your customer’s motivations for seeking out and interacting with your website, what their behaviors reveal, and how best to empathize with their emotions during the process.
Here’s what gets factored into UX research:
- Who that person is
Effective UX design anticipates the website users’ pain points and provides a solution. Pinpointing problems that your website customer will need to have solved creates value. How will the design of your website make it smooth and seamless for the user to reach their desired result? It can be easier than you’d imagine losing a sale due to a poorly designed UX.
Imagine that your customer, after completing their online research, is ready to buy your product or services, but is unable to navigate your website intuitively. Perhaps there’s lack of inventory, a glitch during check-out or when trying to schedule an appointment, or the buttons won’t work. After several failed attempts, the customer gets frustrated, bails and leaves your page to visit a competitor’s website. What happened?
Psychology indicates that frustration is a common emotional response to any defeat, the prevention of progress (in this case, being unable to successfully complete the transaction), and blocking of the result. Everyone approaches a task differently. Individuality usage needs to be factored into user-friendly UX design to eliminate frustration and enhance positive feelings. Not every visitor will navigate a website in the same way.
Importance of User Satisfaction
Don Norman, director of The Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego and the author of The Design of Everyday Things, defines UX design as the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction. Here’s one of his famous quotes about human-centered design:
Design + Functionality
Companies are realizing that both the user’s experience on their website and easy access to their products and services are crucial to their bottom-line. A website’s UX needs to be flawless or revenue will be lost. It’s all about looking for the sweet spot that overlaps your business needs and your users’ needs while finding a balance between visual design aesthetics and user functionality. The less effort for the user when interacting with websites, the better the experience.
What are the direct benefits for your business when you integrate the UX into the design and development process of your website?
- Increased sales
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Reduced development time and costs
- Reduced maintenance cost
- Increased productivity
- Decreased training and support costs
User-Centered Website Elements
Here’s a checklist of design elements to prioritize on your website:
- Logical navigation with tools to help users move through the site:
- About Us introduces users to who you are and what you can do for them
- Contact information is made readily available and highly visible
- Call-to-action or signup prompts users to act, get information, or opt-in
- Informational footer is the area for a sitemap, company, and contact information
- Search tool makes it easy for users to locate information on the site.
- Mobile Optimization to ensure user access from mobile devices.
- Loading speed of 4 seconds or less.
- Good Design which includes:
- Use of white space for flow, readability, and focal points,
- Concise content as most people tend to skim content,
- Color scheme to improve website and brand identity,
- Web fonts for user, computer, and browser readability,
- Images, illustrations, or animations to visually capture attention and draw users to your site.