Have you ever been to a website and clicked on something and nothing happened? Did you wonder whether you actually clicked properly? Maybe you clicked it and it’s just taking time to load? Was anything even supposed to happen when you clicked? If this has happened to you, you’ve encountered user experience (UX) and – if you’ve been in the position described above – you’ve probably encountered bad UX.
What is User Experience?
When it comes to websites, user experience (UX) is how well your website is presented, how easy it is to navigate, and how easy it is for a visitor to find the information they’re looking for. When building a website, user experience encompasses the layout, site architecture, visual design, text, sound and user interactions.
User experience is very important for your website to succeed at any sort of conversion. If the goal you have set for your website is to create brand or product awareness then a good user experience will give your visitors the information they’re looking for in an engaging manner. If your website is aimed at lead generation then a good user experience will give visitors a compelling reason to fill in their contact information. Even if you have set a simple goal for your website like urging visitors to call your business or visit your store, your UX should communicate why it’s worth their while to do so and have clear call-to-actions on what you want them to do next.
Key Points for a Good User Experience
There are a few key things that you must consider as part of your website design if you want to have a good user experience, because a good UX doesn’t happen by accident.
The first thing you have to get right is to understand your buyer. We include an extensive buyer persona exercise at the beginning of our projects because it is so critically important to understand who your buyer is, what issues they have that you can help them with, and how to communicate with them. If you don’t understand who your buyer is then you’re taking a spray-and-pray approach to your online marketing.
When you get to the design stage, a clear layout is key. You should have a clear visual hierarchy on your website where the most important information has the most prominent placement and less important information is less prominent. Take heading styles for example – the main page headings should be more prominent and stand out more than page subheadings, which should be more noticeable and stand out more than section headings and section subheadings.
Consistency is another key consideration. There is comfort in familiarity, so having a consistent look and feel throughout the entire website is key. Have you ever noticed that every McDonald’s looks and feels pretty much exactly the same? Consistency of actions is one area that we find most issues with when we perform a no-obligation assessment: sometimes clicking on menu item at the top of the page will do nothing, sometimes a submenu will drop down and sometimes it’ll take us to another page – all these things happen within the same website. If you have the same elements doing different things then the user could get confused and bounce away to the next website.
Having a limited number of visual elements is also part of designing a good user experience. When it comes to using different fonts, colours and image styles, you should always remember that just because you can doesn’t mean you have to. Just because you can use fifteen different colours to highlight different aspects of your products, services or company it doesn’t mean you have to. In cases where there’s a smash up of different colours and styles on the same page it’s like walking into a packed room and everyone is trying to talk to you at the same time – do you think you’d really understand what any of them are saying? Instead, boil the essence of the message down to its simple and most basic form and use only a few visual elements to effectively communicate your message.
A good user experience plays a critical role in the effectiveness of your website design, and a good user experience just doesn’t happen by accident. In order to design and develop a website that effectively achieves the goals you set, you need to understand your buyer, have a clear and consistent layout and limit the visual elements you use.
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