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Think of ‘design’ and you’ll most likely conjure up images of colour swatches, font lists or stock photography. Whilst all these elements can be an integral part of visual composition, every good design should always begin with carefully considered planning and research. After all, when Henry T Ford invented the motorcar – his first consideration wasn’t the colour of the product - it was, however, available in any colour, as long as it was black.
So, where does User Experience (UX) come into this? Behind every great-looking design, there’s an awful lot of background work involved to ensure it works for the correct demographic.
In a nutshell, user experience describes how a user feels when they interact with a design. A successful UX designer should identify the user’s needs, pain points, behaviours and goals to create an interface that provides a seamless navigational experience.
There are several tried and tested methods for creating a successful user experience. The most important questions to ask at the beginning of a project should be user-focused; Why is a new website required? Who will be using the website?
What steps do we need to take to ensure the design is going to work for the user? I often find myself making the same statement during the client onboarding process;
“In the nicest possible way, we’re not just designing a website for you, we’re designing it for your clientele”.
It’s all very well taking the client’s word for it, but to create a data-driven design we need to perform our own in-depth research. Looking at competitors allows us to see what works well within an interface design, and product research can show us website designs and functions that work well and will also inspire the use of best practice.
For human-centred design, user research is of course key. This can include competitive analysis, carrying out user interviews or deploying user tracking software on existing websites. Analysing user thoughts, patterns and behaviours can influence a well-considered site structure that’s easy to navigate.
Findings from research should influence the flow of content and pages throughout the site. Consideration of navigational elements and the placement of key action buttons and menus should be paramount to allow for a pain-free user experience. Information architecture is usually presented in the form of a site map, wireframes or flow diagrams.
It’s imperative that the focus remains on content at this stage, to ensure the structure is bulletproof before visual elements are added, which could distract the focus from perfecting the flow. I liken this stage to creating a blue-print or a skeleton of your website, a data-driven framework before we add visual elements that could be deemed subjective.
Don Norman, who was the inventor of the term ‘User Experience’ said, “No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all of the stages of a product or service — from initial intentions through final reflections, from first usage to help, service and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.”
The best way to make all these elements work together seamlessly is to keep it simple. Simple design doesn’t mean boring, but it means ease of interaction and less cognitive effort for users. If it’s too ‘busy’ visually and needs to be figured out, users will lose interest and bounce off the site for something easier to navigate.
So, keep user interfaces simple! Reduce visual clutter, introduce fewer elements, and emphasise what’s crucial and it will translate into immediate improvements in usability.
Make it as easy as possible for users to spend money with you.
There are various reasons why getting UX right is crucial for your web design and the future of your business, not the least of these being that enjoying a good experience means that customers are likely to return or recommend your website to others.
Quality UX tries to fulfil the user’s needs and builds a better customer satisfaction–conversion–retention journey, establishing a two-way relationship between the company and the user and encouraging them to return again and again. UX helps provide an intuitive experience, coherence and continuity within platform-specific designs.
Building a site with a strong, high-quality UX design is something that we have vast experience doing at Sherbz, as you can see by checking out our portfolio of contented clients. We understand that like building a house, a strong, data-driven foundation will allow for a strong and successful build or foundation that will last.
Here at Sherbet Donkey, we discover the issues and user pain points that exist on your current website, and how we can re-work it to help you reach your business goals. Armed with competitor and SEO research we begin to build you the UX design you’ve been dreaming of to propel your company into the future and greater website traffic.
Our team of talented designers are waiting to use their skills to build your new UX-optimised site, so why not get in touch to discuss how we can help you today?
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