Designing a website with a good user experience means accounting for a great many things. It needs to look nice but it also needs to function well. Oh, and it also needs to relay all the vital information you need to get out there about your business, product, or service, all without seeming too pushy. Your most important information needs to be above the fold but you have a lot of info that’s really, really important. It’s tough, to say the least.
And while a good designer gets caught up in the minutia, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate the big picture. Ask yourself, “Does this design serve my target demographic? Does it provide the information my customers need? Does it provide a design they’ve come to expect?”
Answering “yes” to those questions means you’re on the right track toward creating a compelling user experience (UX) and that’s precisely what we’re going to talk about more in depth here today: What makes a good UX?
An Understanding of Your Users
You can’t create a design that’s tailored to your users if have no idea who they are. If you’re sitting down to work on your site’s design and are clueless in this area, it’s time to take a step back and conduct some research. Yes, that means good old fashioned market research to gain an understanding of the demographics you’re dealing with.
A few questions to ask yourself include: How old are most of your users? With what gender do they identify? Where are they located? What operating system do they use? What browser? What is their household income?
This combination of demographics gathering and computer usage info should give you a better sense of who your users are. Then you have a more comprehensive set of data from which to pull when developing layout, design, and interactive site elements.
User Journey Flow
Often referred to as user flow mapping, you can think of this as a heat map on a website. What areas are “hot” or get the most activity? What side of the page are user’s eyes drawn to? What elements capture the most attention?
This is typically measured by what a user clicks on first when visiting a new site. From there, user flow is recorded by the way in which a user navigates around a site. Do they click through several pages deep? Do they go back to the homepage a lot? Do they tend to click in-line links?
Understanding how your target users interact with website is crucial for your overall success. That way you can build a user experience that is custom targeted to them.
Any good user experience is rooted in solid design concepts. Yes, this means it needs to look good and be generally appealing to your target audience. You should stick with a design that makes sense for your industry, too, but you’re allowed some freedom in terms of color palette and layout, so long as it’s done well. That’s the key to any design, actually: you can do anything so long as you execute it well.
Once you think you’ve pinned down a design that exemplifies your brand and offers a good user experience, you’re all ready to publish, right? Hold up! Wait! Actually, you need to test your site, its design, and your UI before you even think about going live.
How can you do this without spilling the beans? Recruit some key industry players to beta test your site for you. Reach out via social media. You’d be surprised by how many people are willing to help you out. Just by asking, you’ve shown that you think highly of their opinion, and most people will respond positively to that subtle form of flattery.
So, once you have a few people to test your site, give them access and ask for their honest opinion. Also, track their movement through the site to get a sense of user flow. This will tell you what’s working, what isn’t, and what you need to fix before you make your official launch.
A good user experience is truly everything and the sooner you embrace this notion, the sooner you’ll see a site go live that truly caters to your ideal customers.