As of today, 1.74 billion websites are lighting up the internet. Now that’s a lot of competition.
With the meteoric rise of digitisation, user standards for websites are subsequently rising too. Successful web design is no longer a matter of aesthetic beauty. Today, design must be both intelligent and enjoyable. For this reason, developing a great user experience (focusing on form and function) has become paramount for website designers. Here’s how to achieve it.
01. Understand your Audience
By understanding your customers in a three-dimensional capacity, web designers can construct design schemes that are fine-tuned to your audience and business objectives.
So, who makes up your audience? What are their needs? What problem do you solve? Were they even aware of this problem to begin with?
Gain this information and you’ll be steps closer to building a memorable web experience. To harvest this customer knowledge we strongly recommend creating buyer personas.
A buyer persona is the ultimate example of your ideal customer and best built with data of existing customers along with target audience research. Make sure to be as specific as possible when developing these characters (right down to their weekend hobbies). This way you gain the clearest view of their goals and motivations, which you can then use to influence your website construction.
02. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
A common mistake made in web and user experience design is letting your inner creative genius get too carried away with being ‘different’. We’re talking irregularly spaced content, mismatched colour schemes, and layouts that are too abstract to follow.
Truth be told, most websites share the same conventional formatting and for good reason - the world is used to it. Don’t try and fix something that isn’t broken. Instead of provoking interest with original concepts, your efforts are more likely to harm website engagement.
Instead, stick to the common layout methodology that decades of web designers have developed to perfection. Your website will immediately feel familiar to visitors, therefore optimising their user experience by increasing usability.
With this as a structural base, you can then give your website personality. But when customising, always focus on your audience and brand for the best chance at increasing website conversions.
03. Simplify your Layouts
Ever visited a website with so much happening that you didn’t really know where to start? Save users the confusion and simplify your layouts to improve the user experience.
Say it with me, “less is more”.
Now, with this in mind, here are our tips for simplification.
- User-focused content. With your newly curated customer knowledge, determine what content will gain the most interest from your target audience. Note: you have 15 seconds to capture attention. Only include information that is necessary.
- White space. Sure, it appears empty, perhaps useless. But what white space does is act as a buffer between content. Thus, allowing users time to absorb what they’ve seen.
- Consistent typographic hierarchy. By using larger and smaller sized copy across your website you can suggest to users what content is more important. Keep this size strategy consistent and users will feel more comfortable browsing your website as they don’t have to do the research for key messages.
- Content grouping. Websites such as our own will present content in bite-sized samples to make it more consumable for users. Design tip: place shapes/images behind grouped content to separate it from the rest.
- Logical placement. When discussing your business face to face with potential customers you would likely explain it in a particular order. Your website should be no different. Distribute your content wisely to keep your story captivating and lead users towards the goal of conversion.
04. Design Responsively
Websites are great tools, but unfortunately they have great inconsistencies in appearance across different devices and browser platforms.
The consequence? Warped and disjointed layouts that are either missing key content or are simply unreadable and unable to function. These faults not only damage a user’s experience, but also reflect poorly on your business.
But that’s not all... mobile devices are the most common victims to inconsistency. Which is rather inconvenient considering the majority of internet browsers come from mobile devices. There is a solution however and that is to design responsively.
Responsive design is an approach that enables a website to be viewed on all devices, screen sizes, and browsers, all without compromising user experience. It’s achieved by use of a specific layout that can shift and change to accommodate users’ points of access.
Integrate this approach and you’re guaranteed to see a decrease in your website’s bounce rate and an increase in leads.
05. Make Key Elements Visually Distinct
When a website feels natural, as though you could navigate it blindfolded, a user tends to get comfortable. This is a UX achievement because when a user is content pottering about, they’re likely to stay longer and continue exploring. Exactly what you want your users to do.
To establish this ease of usability, a web designer must ensure the key elements are visually distinct. Think of them as the bright lights marking a plane's landing strip. But instead they’re gently guiding users so that they needn’t think of what’s next. It simply follows.
Here are the five elements you should enhance:
- Highlight valuable content. At different points in your website journey, particular sections of content will be more valuable than others. Showcase this information by highlighting important aspects with larger font sizing.
- Strengthen action buttons. These buttons are typically the final step before conversion, but to generate success they must stand out and be straightforward. Do this by adjusting button sizes (not too small or too big), using exclusive colours, and writing copy that gets to the point. E.g. “get started” or “chat with us”
- Make navigational tools accessible. It’s human nature to enjoy knowing where we are. The same goes for websites. Support this comfort by ensuring navigation tools are always available and found where they should be. E.g. the navigation panel belongs at the top and suggested content at the bottom (for the purpose of pulling users along further).
- Highlight the search field. Firstly, users shouldn’t struggle to find the search field. It’s usually found in the top right hand of a web page. Keep it there. Secondly, integrate the display word “search” and magnifying glass icon into your search field. You’d be surprised by how much these features encourage users to search for more.
- Utilise colour correctly. By following universal colour rules users will understand your website better. E.g. use red to warn of errors and blue to highlight hyperlinked copy. Additionally, and on a more general scale, colour should be used to feature important elements. Try softening the background and using colours that stand out to support the content you’re presenting.
06. Experiment, Improve, Repeat
The truth is that your user experience will never be perfect as people have different user needs. But you can get close by experimenting often to make improvements.
The best way tools/methods for testing are ones that are data-driven. With these approaches you can make evidence-based decisions to improve your user experience.
Tests with high success:
- A/B testing. For web designers this tool is the most unbiased way to figure out what works best. Try testing content, CTAs, colour schemes, and layouts against each other to learn what get the best engagement. Google optimise offers an A/B testing tool that you can trial for free.
- Screen recording and heatmaps. By tracking where users are most engaged you can gain invaluable insight as to what is working and what isn’t. We recommend using Hotjar.
Need a Hand? Let's Talk
Great UX is not only about enhancing your website to capture interest and increase engagement. It’s more comprehensive than that. With digital standards continually rising, great UX is more so about making constant improvements to keep your users happy and generate conversion success.
If you’re wanting to create a great user experience you need to note that it’s a very hands-on job that requires ongoing creation, testing, and adjustments. Because this is time consuming, partnering with a web design agency is the best option for many businesses.