If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past five years, you’ve probably heard the term UX design. And you’ve probably thought to yourself, Ugh, another internet trend that only the creator of the term truly understands. I know I did, but it turns out, we were both wrong.
UX design is all the rage in website development nowadays, and it’s not going to fade into the background anytime soon. UX stands for user experience, and it’s in reference to how your website is designed from a user experience perspective. In layman terms, UX begs the following questions:
- Is your website easy to use?
- Is it accessible?
- Is it pleasing to the eye?
When it comes to web development, designing for the user experience is essential to your website’s success. The goal is to make the interaction between the user and your website as natural and seamless as possible for a human and a machine.
In the spirit of making things simpler, I’ve outlined 10 tips to help you master UX design:
1. Keep It Simple
When users land on your website, they are almost always there with a purpose. They are looking for some piece of information or looking to complete some action. When designing a website, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the number of design elements that exist. But keep in mind, every element on your website should serve a purpose. While that spinning graphic may look pretty if it doesn’t have a purpose, it is only making it harder for users to find what they need. In turn, hurting the user experience.
2. Be Consistent
Consistency is key when it comes to the overall look and feel of your website. Each page of your website serves its own purpose and has its own unique information. While the pages should stand alone, they should also feel like they are all part of the same website. Consistency should be found in the color scheme, typography, imagery and even the tone of the content throughout the website. This will help the user feel comfortable on your site, making the content easier to digest and understand.
3. Create a Visual Hierarchy
Visual hierarchy is especially critical on the homepage of your website. The purpose of a homepage is to draw the users to the most important information on your site and entice them to dive further into your site’s content. By creating a visual hierarchy, you are using visual cues to tell the user which information is the most important and which action to take next. This can be achieved by carefully considering the size, color and positioning of different elements on the page. For example, a call to action button may be strategically placed on the lefthand side of the page. Users tend to read left to right, which means their eyes naturally go to the left first and the call to action will be the first thing they see.
4. Have Intuitive Navigation
We’ve already talked about how a user comes to your website with a specific purpose in mind. When designing your website’s overall structure, it is important to consider how intuitive it is for a user to find what they are looking for. A user should be able to navigate your entire site through the homepage and know almost immediately where they need to click next to get where they want to be. To do this, create clear titles in your primary navigation, include links in your website’s footer and keep navigation at no more than three levels deep.
5. Know Your Audience
How can you design your website for user experience if you don’t know who your user is? Knowing the audience of your website will give you insight into what type of information they will be coming to your website to find. This information will be imperative in creating your website’s structure and content.
6. Create Simple Forms
Forms are an important element on your website because that’s where you will convert the user. The more fields your forms have, the less likely a user is to fill them out. This may seem obvious, but when it comes time to decide what information to include, it is easy to get carried away. Once you have a user’s attention and get him/her to start filling out your form, you are going to have the urge to get as much information as you can. However, if you want to keep the user’s attention, you have to fight this urge. Whether it’s making an appointment or a general inquiry, include only the information that is absolutely necessary to obtain from the user in order to take the next steps. You can collect more information later.
7. Use Color Wisely
This tip ties back into consistency and creating a visual hierarchy. Choosing the right colors can make all the difference. Throughout your web design, it is imperative to choose a color palette and stick to it. This will create a sense of uniformity and connectedness. Contrasting colors can help make certain elements stand out and play an important role in the visual hierarchy of each page. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the rainbow of colors that exist, but when it comes to how many colors to include on a page, less is always more.
8. Be Accessible
As of 2015, more than 80 percent of internet users own a smartphone. This number continues to grow each and every year. In order to be relevant in today’s world, it is vital to make your website mobile friendly. Whether the user is using the phone, tablet, or sitting at a computer, the experience on your website should be equally pleasant. Your website should also be easy to find. Optimizing your site for search engines (SEO) will allow users to find your website through a simple Google search.
9. Choose the Right Typography
Choosing the right font can be as overwhelming as choosing the right colors. Similar to the rules of color, when it comes to typefaces, less is more. There should never be more than three different typefaces on a single webpage. Larger fonts should be used for headings and calls to action. Smaller fonts should be used for general content. Sans-serif fonts are easier to read on the screen, so they are the best choice when designing for the web.
10. Listen to the User
Once you launch your website, you should always be looking for ways to improve. You will almost never get it right the first time around. If a page is not performing as you expected, take a careful look at the content and layout of the page, and see if there are ways you can improve the user’s experience. Tools such as heat maps, visitor recordings and website analytics can help you make data-driven decisions about a page’s design. Whenever you make a change, remember: measure, measure and measure some more.
So, Now What?
You’ve read the tips, and you’re ready to design a website that is fully optimized for UX, right? Wrong. Designing for UX is not something that can be mastered overnight. It takes time and a level of expertise. Luckily for you, you don’t have to do it alone. At Points Group, we’ve done the hard work for you. Learn more about our website development services.