It’s estimated that Americans spend nearly seven hours per day online. That time may include shopping, conducting research, consuming news content, scrolling and posting on social media, or streaming videos. With the variety of options available for each of these purposes, what makes us choose one website or app over another?
Whether we know it or not, the answer lies in our experience with each site. The term UX (user experience) was coined by Dr. Don Norman in the 1990’s as a way of describing all aspects of the end user’s interaction with a platform.
User experience, by definition, is a consequence of many factors including brand image, presentation, functionality, system performance, interactive behavior and assistive capabilities. Think of it as users’ perceptions and responses that result from interaction with a system, product, or service.
What is UX Design?
User experience design is the discipline that concerns itself with creating a positive experience for the end user of a system. But really, what does UX mean for you? Basically, UX describes the way a user feels during and after an interaction with your system. UX design aims to improve that experience.
UX web design focuses on developing a deep understanding of what users need and value, their abilities and limitations, their ultimate goals, and their behaviors. UX designers then use this information to create an intuitive digital interface that works exactly how users expect.
Note: For the purposes of this article, the systems we are discussing are websites and mobile web apps.
Why is UX Important?
Before user experience web design became a “thing,” websites were built based on what designers thought was cool and what their clients wanted to see. None of this took the end user into consideration, but that didn’t matter thirty years ago when the internet wasn’t such an integral part of our day to day lives.
Since then, as user experience design has emerged as a sort-of science, it’s been proven over and over that the most successful websites and mobile apps are pleasant to use.
Benefits of UX Design for Websites and Apps
There are several benefits to using UX methods while developing your mobile web app or website. In the end they all lead to a more successful interface which lends itself to a more successful business.
Of course, the goal of any business is to retain loyal customers who refer others. Now, there’s no guarantee that a providing a positive experience will lead to customer loyalty, but utilizing UX principles can ensure you don’t lose users because of a negative experience.
Users are more likely to convert if their experience is pleasant. And we all know that conversions are key to a website’s (or app’s) success. In fact, some of the same principals employed for purposes of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) are also used to improve user experience.
Users come to you to solve some sort of problem. Regardless of the reason for their visit, they are likely to be satisfied if their problem is solved and the experience is positive.
UX Design – Website and Mobile App Considerations
UX methodology focuses on several elements of user experience which have been proven to impact the perceptions and feelings of those who interact with a specific platform. While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of factors that impact mobile app or website UX, below you’ll find some UX best practices which, when implemented, lead to a significant improvement in user experience.
To create a site your users love, you need to know all about them first. UX research focuses on understanding user behaviors, needs, and motivations via observation and analysis. The better you know your customer, the more you can tailor your platform to their needs.
How does your product function compared to the way users think it should? Does the link they click direct them to the page they expect? Does swiping up create the result they were hoping for? It can lead to a frustrating experience if features don’t function the way a user anticipates they will.
The structure, organization, and presentation of information within your website or app can have a huge impact on UX, meaning these factors must be considered when developing your UX design strategy. Can your users easily find what they are looking for? Is it clear what information is contained in each section of your website? Optimizing information architecture makes using your website much easier, thus improving user experience.
As silly as it may sound, visual design plays a big role in engagement. Visual design focuses on creating an aesthetically pleasing interface and considers how the look of your website or app makes users feel. Effective UX design in websites creates a hierarchy that leads users to take the actions you want them to.
Aim to deliver valuable content that works to help you achieve your business goals. A content strategy can employ web copy, blogs, emails, ads, and other elements to connect with users and keep them coming back for more.
No UX strategy is complete without a plan to analyze its effectiveness. Conversion rates, session time, and bounce rates are particularly useful in determining the success of your UX design. Website analytics tools such as Google Analytics can (and should) be used for this purpose.
UX Design Principles
The UX process puts user experience ahead of presenting information. In fact, when determining whether they will return to your site or app, it’s suspected that a memorable experience carries more weight with users than the actual information provided. Below are a few truths about user behavior that should be considered when developing your UX web design strategy.
Users Scan Instead of Read
Most people scan content for something that looks interesting before they actually begin reading, which is important to know for purposes of UX design. Meaning, to capture user interest, your interface must be scannable and the information easy to digest.
Clarity and Simplicity Rule
Users will evaluate whether they like your platform in less than a second. They’ll glance at your site and almost immediately determine whether it’s worth their time. You’ve got to appeal to them very quickly, and it’s been proven that clarity and simplicity are two key factors here. Clean fonts, a simple color palate, consistent alignment, crisp photos. They all make your interface much more appealing to users.
Common Elements are Key
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Going against the grain is one of the most common web design mistakes we see. If your website functions differently than expected, your users will be frustrated. And no number of cool features or creative design elements will be able to change that.
Audience Above All
Not only do you need to know who your audience is, but you need to understand their expectations. By using styles and designs your audience is comfortable with, by anticipating their needs and presenting solutions in advance, by providing valuable content – you will create a pleasant user experience, and they’ll want to come back.
Visual Hierarchies Help
The priorities of each website or app will vary, as will what matters most to each group of users. Regardless of which elements are most important on your interface, highlight them. This will draw users’ attention right to where you want it. There are plenty of ways to employ visual hierarchies, but the most common is to differentiate importance based on size or color of the element.
Love Your UX Experience with Hungry Media
Hungry Media has years of digital experience in a wide range of industries. From web design to content creation – we can help with it all. Don’t get bogged down with the nitty gritty. Let us worry about your UX design and website while you focus on the big picture. We can’t wait to hear about your business and ideas. Contact us today to get started!
contributed by Melissa Lucas, senior staff writer