Although UX, short for User Experience, has become an increasingly important topic of discussion in web design in recent years, there are still plenty of people asking the question: what is UX and what does it mean for my website? UX is an essential part of the website development process but is too often neglected, and is especially important for complex projects such as e-commerce sites.
Put simply, the aim of good UX design is to create websites which are enjoyable to use and which offer something of value to the visitor. The more frustrating a user finds your site to use, the less time they are likely to spend on it, we hope with this brief guide, you’ll soon have a grasp of understanding user experience.
More than Design
UX is more than just graphic design – it’s not what the site looks like, it’s what it works like. While the design will be a big part of how users interact with a site, just as important are the hierarchy of the site, how it is structured, and how these factors work with the graphic design. At any point during their journey through your website your visitors should not get lost and should always be able to find their way back to where they came from, and to where they want to go.
A well-designed UX should be amazingly simple to navigate, not a maze. Amazon is an example of one site with a successful UX, so much so that it’s changed relatively little over the years. The design might not be the most exciting, and one of the more complex among major websites, but it makes it easy for users to find what they want to buy and complete their purchase.
Other websites have had a more clear evolution, from a basic website for a service to one that has clearly responded to its user’s changing requirements. Mailchimp is one example which has changed dramatically over the years – from a simple tabbed interface, to the user-friendly site that millions of email marketers are familiar with today.
Design for Drunks
One UX designer has made a living off of testing websites drunk, based on the philosophy that a really great UX should be so well designed that even a drunk visitor will find it easy to use. That designer is Richard Littauer and although he highlights 10 things he learned through surfing under the influence, great UX really boils down to just one – helping the user to find the information they’re looking for in the shortest time possible.
A bad UX is one that puts up roadblocks for your users to stumble over (drunkenly or not) as they try to navigate your site. Anything that’s not essential, and is hindering your visitor’s journey, should go. Eliminating unnecessary information, knocking down walls of text, and resuscitating any dead links are just a few easy to fix ways of improving your visitors’ experience.
Simpler = Better
Although the goal of UX has always been the same, it has now evolved to the point where simpler is always better. Gone are the days of slow-loading Flash intros and graphical buttons, and in their place are simpler designs and more responsive sites.
Responsive design is possibly the biggest change that UX has undergone in recent years and is no longer optional but an essential consideration of any website which wants to offer the best UX possible and grow its business. Responsive designs are ones that adapt themselves to mobile devices, ensuring that the experience that users have browsing your site on a small screens is just as good as on a big one.
Teamwork and UX
When it come to the process of crafting an effective UX, it’s not just work of one person, and it can’t be pigeon-holed into web design or development. A great UX is the result of a team of digital professionals working together each contributing their opinion as both a professional and as a website user. All feedback should be taken into account and every aspect of the website tested rigorously before it is launched.
Here at VU, we’re experts at creating user experiences tailored to your users, ensuring the time they spend on your site is helpful and enjoyable. Happy users are users who are more likely to make a purchase and a great UX will generate more leads and sales. If you want to understand the user experience on your existing website, why not sign up for our free website review? Or just drop us a line – we’ll be happy to help.
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