What is UX?
User experience (UX) is how a user feels when interacting with something. This could be anything — a product, an installation, a system or a website. UX focuses on having a deep understanding of users, their needs, values, abilities and limitations. In addition, it takes into account business goals and objectives. To improve user experience, steps are taken to improve the quality of users’ interactions with and perceptions of the product or related services. In short, UX is about how we can make the experience of users as meaningful and valuable as possible.
Why is UX important in web design?
Due to technological advances, the web has become increasingly complicated. It is not as simple as it used to be — a one-way static medium has evolved into a rich and interactive experience. However, regardless of how complex things have become, a website’s effectiveness still relies on one thing — how its users perceive it.
“Does this website have value to me? Is it easy and pleasant to use?” These are some questions that go through the minds of visitors as they interact with a website. Through this, they make decisions on whether to become regular users.
A visitor’s journey to a website with good user experience would look something like this:
- They visit your website
- They scroll through the different pages
- They understand what the website is all about
- Lastly, they achieve what they set out to accomplish through the website
There are several factors to determine how user-friendly a product, service or website is.
- Value — Does your content make the time spent on the website worthwhile?
- Usability — Is the website easy to use?
- Usefulness — Does your website meet users’ goals?
- Desirable — Does your brand identity and content evoke emotion and appreciation within the user?
- Findable — Is your website navigable and easy to find?
- Accessible — Can all kinds of people, even those with disabilities access your content?
- Credible — Does your website evoke trust in the user towards your brand?
Every step you take to improve the user experience of your website optimises the conversion funnel. The objective is to reduce as many obstacles as possible. This is to make sure your visitors don’t get confused and stuck in the midst of getting to what they want. The last thing you would want is for potential customers to leave your website out of frustration while navigating through your site.
How can you apply UX to web design?
There are many variables when it comes to optimizing the user experience of a website. From market research to usability evaluation and from user interface design to accessibility, there’s a lot that goes into this. A visitor is always on your website with a mission. How easy it is for them to accomplish that mission is up to how much you optimise the user experience of your website. There is no limit to how many actions you can take to optimise your website, but for starters, here are some fundamental steps you can apply UX to the web design of your site.
1. Stick to conventions
When designing websites, one should stick to conventions. This is because people are used to these conventions. Taking advantage of this human behaviour can make navigating through your site natural and easy. This does not mean that creativity is stifled, but rather your creativity in designing the website has to align with these conventions.
Such conventions can include:
- The logo at the left corner of the header.
- The search bar on the right side of the header.
- The mobile navigation menu at the top of the page, either on the right side or centred.
- Call to action button at the top.
- Social media links as icons on the footer.
- The sign-up form on the footer.
2. Have good typography and visual hierarchy
Text in content should be easy to differentiate to increase readability. Typically, there are four levels:
- Paragraph/body text
On top of that, there are a few factors that can establish a visual hierarchy:
Normally, the more important text is bolder, darker and/or larger.
3. Format text for easier readability
Here are some suggestions to format text for better readability:
Use sans-serif fonts
Sans-serif fonts such as Roboto and Montserrat are easier to read on digital screens than serif fonts such as Times New Roman or Georgia.
Use more headings
When visitors scan through your content, they are more likely to take notice of the headings as compared to body text. In addition, headings help to break the text and make it look more organized.
Keep your paragraphs short and sweet
Short paragraphs are easier to read and digest as compared to big blocks of text. Break big chunks of text into shorter paragraphs. Ideally, two or three statements per paragraph work fine.
Make use of bulleted and numbered lists
- They help to break large blocks of text
- They are easy to read
- They help key information to stand out
Highlight keywords and phrases
Because most people do not read every single word on your website, it helps to highlight important words and phrases. You can highlight them by bolding or italicising, but take note not to overdo it as that will cause it to lose credibility and effectiveness.
4. Do not clutter your website
Nobody likes a poorly designed website. A cluttered website isn’t an aesthetic problem, but a business problem — one that can potentially cost you a lot of money.
If you say you are great at something or your product is awesome, then your website design should walk the talk.
Make use of negative (white) space
Dividing the page into clearly defined sections makes it easier to scan and focus. Naturally, the most important content should come first. Different background colours, images or other design elements can be used to define different sections.
Minimise the use of popups
Get rid of unnecessary popups and animations that get in the way of a pleasant experience. Popups should notify, not annoy.
You can’t go wrong with a simple, clean design
When you remove unnecessary elements from your website, you are left with a much cleaner interface that is easy on the eye and less confusing to navigate through.
5. Whatever that’s clickable should look clickable
Users can be impatient, so it is important to allow your users to reach their goals as quickly as possible. Usually, users get to their goals on a website by clicking through links or buttons. As such, links and buttons should be easily noticeable and obvious.
A link is usually underlined and coloured. Buttons can be easily identified when they have a shadow, different background colour and/or bold text (sometimes uppercase). Both buttons and links should have hover effects, like changing to a different colour.
On the other hand, elements that are unclickable should not look clickable.
6. Optimise your website’s performance for a smoother experience
Besides the design and content of your website, how it is developed and maintained is equally important. A good website performance helps improve user experience, search engine optimisation and reaching your conversion goals. To put it simply, it means more profit.
One such way is to optimise your website’s speed. The load times of webpages are critical when it comes to user experience. The longer your website takes to load, the more visitors and potential customers you lose. There are ways to optimise your page load speed, such as reducing the sizes of your images as much as possible without losing quality. As mentioned earlier, getting rid of unnecessary assets and features can improve the speed of your website. Additionally, minifying scripts and stylesheets can also help. There are also numerous tools for testing your website speed. They are able to suggest ways to optimise the speed of your website.
7. Have a responsive and mobile-friendly design
Nowadays, screens come in many sizes and it is important for your website to cater to common sizes such as desktop, laptop, tablets and mobile devices. Furthermore, a large portion of web browsers today are mobile users. Thus, if your website is not mobile-friendly, you lose out on a significant number of potential customers. To check whether your website is responsive, try resizing your browser size. Your website should automatically adapt itself if it is responsive. If not, it may be time to adopt a responsive and mobile-friendly design.
UX — an integral part of our web design process
Here at Oangle, we make sure not to leave out UX practices in our web design and development projects. We believe that bad UX makes a bad website, just as having good UX web design can help to reach your site reach its business goals way better. Drop us a message if you’re keen to find out more about how we can apply our knowledge of UX to the web design of your websites.