A good website combines function and form. To lead to sales conversion, it has to be more than just a pretty sight. In this respect, a good website needs to provide a good user experience and user interface. Not to be mistaken to be the same, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) involve two different disciplines. They also have different sets of considerations.
User experience is the more analytical and technical component of the two. This focuses on the quality of users’ interaction with the perceptions of a business’ products or services. It is about creating value for users and providing customer satisfaction when users are perusing the website.
Is the content useful? Would the user find the site easy to use? Does the home page take a long time to load? Is the check-out process too complicated? These are just some of many considerations when designing a good user experience.
Since most users do not spend more than a few seconds browsing a page, web designers have the momentous task of engaging users within mere seconds. In a very short time, users need to find enough reason to stay on. They need to be able to understand your business’ value proposition almost instantaneously.
To create a good user experience, the UX designer needs to put himself or herself in the shoes of the users. The designer needs to understand not just the user’s thoughts, but more importantly his or her emotions. It is about marrying user experience and user empathy to create the best possible experience for users.
In short, your users have to come first. Depending on the type of product or service or the target users, designing a good user experience can be a mix of different factors. What makes the area of user experience challenging is the fact that it is rather abstract. It also lacks a metric to access or measure the effectiveness of a user experience design. By far the best barometer of a good user experience is perhaps high pages views, low bounce rates and high conversion rates.
Create a good user experience
Bearing in mind that the user comes first when designing a website, usability is important in creating a pleasant user experience. Good website navigation would be a good start.
Good website navigation allows users to find the information they require with ease. As such, navigation should be simple and predictable. It is about developing structure on the website from which users take in content. The last thing you want is a confused user who decides to give up searching for desired content altogether.
Navigation can be simple when content belonging to the same category is compartmentalised. It also helps to have call to action buttons that guide users along in the process.
User interface is a concept that is easier to wrap your fingers around. This involves the visual design of a website. Consideration goes to colours, fonts, images and layouts among other design elements. It is about creating a look and feel that is consistent and coherent.
Designing a user interface involves expertise in graphic design and a bit more. Since a website can be viewed on different mediums, the user interface needs to be responsive. By that, responsive web designs are designs that work well across mobile devices, tablets and desktop screens. As the word suggests, these designs adapt to the environment in which the website is viewed.
This challenges a designer to come up with designs that would not be compromised or limited by screen display sizes. It requires creativity and technical expertise. To do so, the designer must be part designer and part developer. He or she has to think beyond design principles and laws to take into account fluidity of design elements and content when viewed on another device.
In a nutshell, designing a website is more than just coding or putting together visual elements and text in grids. Today’s designer needs to practise empathy to better connect with users and understand what motivates certain emotions and decisions. As expectations among users grow, UX and web designers need to provide an experience that far exceeds beautiful visuals and informative content.