User experience (UX) in web design refers to the experience of your end-users (i.e. your website visitors) when they interact with your website. It includes their reactions, thoughts and feelings from the time they land on your splash page or homepage to the time they leave. In other words, it sums up their entire experience with your website. Depending on how your website is designed, that experience can be a positive or negative one.
UX is a pillar of excellent web design. When you design your website with your end-users in mind, you increase your website’s probability of delivering positive user experiences. High-performing and well-designed websites share this user-centred quality. In turn, they are rewarded with high traffic and more conversions because their users find them easy and enjoyable to use.
Why UX Matters
A Forrester study found an excellent user interface can lead to a 200% increase in your website’s conversion rate, and that improving your UX design can result in a 400% increase in your conversion rate. Meanwhile, 75% of consumers link the credibility of a business with its web design and the quality of user experience it delivers.
These statistics clearly show that the quality of UX your website offers has a strong impact on your business’ reputation, level of customer engagement and financial performance. It’s not rocket science, just plain human behaviour: customers keep going back to brands that give them delightful experiences, whether online or offline.
The UX Honeycomb
Peter Morville, regarded as the founding father of information architecture, developed the UX Honeycomb which identifies the seven qualities that lead to positive user experiences. These are:
- Useful. Your website needs to have original content that actually serves a purpose.
- Usable. Your website should be easy to use, effective and efficient.
- Desirable. Your website must evoke positive feelings such as appreciation through its design and branding.
- Findable. Your website content needs to be easy to locate by your users.
- Accessible. Your website content must be available for everyone’s access, including those with disabilities.
- Credible. Your users should be able to believe you and what you say.
- Valuable. Your website needs to deliver value not only to your customers but also to your business.
Read more: What is Accessibility in Web Design?
Eager to start creating websites that deliver amazing user experiences? Follow our seven tips to guide you in your UX design journey:
1. Create A User Persona.
A user persona is a representation of your ideal user based on research and data about your current customer base. Creating a user persona will help you determine who exactly your website is serving. This will aid you in designing a website that fulfils their needs and provides valuable experiences for them. It will help you make informed decisions throughout your web design process.
To start, dig into your customer data to collect and analyse information about your users. This includes their demographics, personalities, motivations, behaviours, and devices used, among other traits to help you develop your user persona.
2. Perform a Thorough User Interface Testing.
User interface testing is a method used to uncover and solve potential difficulties that a user might encounter in your website’s design. It is an important process to undertake if you want to save you time and money in your web design project.
If you have multiple web design studies and want to know which one works best for your users, test them first through a user testing platform. You’ll be surprised to know how something as minimal as a typeface, font colour, or image placement could have a major effect on your users and their opinion of your website.
If you don’t have the resources for advanced user testing platforms and tools, Google Optimise is a good place to start. With this platform, you can easily divide your site impressions into two user groups, and then show each of these user groups a different version of your selected page. Once the stats are in, stick with the page that performs better and make any necessary adjustments.
Read more: What is User Testing in Web Design?
3. Conduct User Surveys or Interviews.
While Google Optimise will show you which of your two designs performs better, surveys and interviews will give you a deeper insight into what your users think and feel about your website.
Only your customers know what is the most effective web design for them. The only way for you to know that valuable information is to ask them. This is why it is important to interact with your user groups to get their perspective on what makes a great user experience. Conducting surveys and interviews will save you from doing the guesswork about what design elements your users find engaging and meaningful.
We recommend that you refer to the seven qualities in the UX Honeycomb when you are formulating your interview or survey questions.
4. Ensure Clear Navigation Through Descriptive Labels and Site Hierarchy.
Using descriptive and specific labels on your menu or navigation bar – Home, About Us, Products, Services, FAQs, Contact Us, to name a few – will make it easier for your visitors to use and explore your website.
You can also follow a hierarchy to ensure seamless navigation. A hierarchy or sitemap is a user experience principle that ensures seamless navigation throughout a website. It is a standard practice among designers to split a website into two main hierarchies: primary and secondary. Primary hierarchy includes the main menu or sections on your navigation bar. The secondary hierarchy includes the dropdown options that will take them deeper into your website.
Using descriptive labels and a logical hierarchy will give your users an easier time finding the page they’re looking for, which contributes to their positive user experience.
5. Enhance Your Site Speed.
If your website is not optimised for fast load times, your users will be frustrated. They will most likely leave your website with a poor impression of your brand.
Generally speaking, users expect websites to load in two seconds, and if it takes beyond that, 40% will leave your website. 53% of mobile users expect websites to load within three seconds. Otherwise, they will abandon you as well.
This clearly shows that speed can make or break your relationship with your users. It is crucial that you optimise your site speed to ensure to deliver great user experiences that lead to increased conversions.
6. Improve Your Site’s Scannability.
There is an overwhelming amount of information available online and offline. What many users do is they scan the site first to see if there is anything valuable for them, before taking a deeper look.
Knowing what your users expect or want to see on your page is one way to make your website pass this scanning test. A general rule of thumb is that it should not take them more than two minutes to understand the information on your page. A second more than two minutes and they will click the back button, resulting in a lost opportunity for you to engage with them.
7. Choose Familiar Web Design Patterns.
Users want a sense of familiarity when they interact with a website. Selecting established web design patterns will lower their risk of confusion and difficulty in navigating your site, which leads to poor user experiences.
Generally speaking, users respond well to a pattern where the most important information is placed at the upper right corner and the action buttons are located at the right side of the screen. This pattern works because users usually scan from the top left to top right, and then down to the left corner of the page, forming an imaginary diagonal line. They will then scan back to the right corner.
There are different web design patterns that suit different businesses. Choose the one that is designed for enticing your target users to take action. Remember to take into consideration the data you gathered from your research, surveys and interviews as well.
UX Begins and Ends With Your Users
User experience is not about you and what you think is best for your users. It is all about your users, their wants and needs. Their requirements and preferences are the sole basis of what will give them a positive user experience. You can find out what this priceless information is by analysing your customer data, asking them the right questions about what will make their user experience meaningful, and incorporating their answers into your web design process.
Once your website succeeds in delivering positive user experiences, it will enjoy higher traffic, deeper customer engagement and more sales and profits for your business.