A user’s experience determines whether they will stay on the site and become a loyal customer or if they will instead decide to go elsewhere.
Some of the most important factors when designing a good website, from a user perspective, will be the time it takes to load, how easy it is to navigate and the overarching feel and look of the website.
1. Users are less skilled than developers
Many developers live in a different world than the average user. Developers can become consumed with building the next best website and lose sight of the fact that sometimes a simpler design is a better fit for the project. Keep in mind you are building the site for the average user whose skill sets may not be as advanced as your own.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development conducted an international study on computer literacy in 33 countries, which gives an interesting look at the average computer skills of the general population. The study took four years to complete and tested 215,942 people, at least 5,000 from each county.
What they discovered was that 14 per cent of the adult population were below level 1 in the computer skills department and 29 per cent were at level 1, which is a basic understanding of software and email. There were 26 per cent of participants who scored at level 2 and five per cent at level 3. All this was basic computer literacy as there were no navigation tests done.
Thus, if designers want to create a site that will be accessible for the majority of the population they will need to design it as simply as possible.
One of the ways to ensure this is to test the website on someone who is outside the design industry and who does not have related skills. Allow them to maneuver through the site unguided and see if they can easily access the site menu and navigate their way around. If not, it may be time to reconsider the site.
2. Don’t waste time
Designers shouldn’t be afraid to restart the design process. This is best done in the planning stage.
Give the design a lot of thought and answer some of the common issues and questions that may arise. Get into the mind of the user and figure out why they will be coming to the site, what are they most likely looking for? What are their motivations for coming to your site? Troubleshooting? Deals and coupons? Education opportunities?
Think about the product or service and plan how a customer might be trying to access information about it – are they using more than one device? More than one website? More than one app?
For example, e-commerce site customers will want the experience to be as streamlined as possible. They are likely using the site to avoid heading out to the store. In this case allowing them to access product information, comparisons and the checkout as quickly and efficiently as possible is the key to success. Also remember that security is crucial to the online shopping process. If a customer doubts they can trust the site they will go elsewhere.
If you find the concept is not working don’t continue to try and force it, simply head back to the drawing board and start again.
3. Connect quickly
Research has shown that users will not wait around for more than a few seconds for a page to load. The longer a page takes to load the more likely it is that the user will move on, according to Kissmetrics.
Thus, it is best to ensure the site is not bogged down and slowing down loading time with various connection speeds. A business may want to consider paying more for hosting features that will help in this area or use caches. Designers can also play around with the size of images on the page or the external scripts.
It is also important to note that you should give full disclosure to the user, if they are being asked to provide contact information or other personal details let them know how that information will be used by the company. For example, if you ask for a phone number be sure it states clearly it is so they can be contact if there is a problem.
4. Streamline the experience
Most users will want to be able to contact the company or customer service so it is important that information be quick and easy to find.
Think through the words or terms you are using in your navigation menu and be sure that they are clear enough for the average user to understand. Guide users through the website and lead them with links to ‘more information’ or ‘you may also enjoy’ options. That being said try to keep the features and options simple. Don’t confuse the user by giving them an endless number of options, especially if the terminology is similar.
Less is often more. White space does not need to be eliminated and a simple, light page can be more attractive to the average user than a fancy, video-embedded version. Don’t forget that the site needs to be simple and easy for the average user to navigate. Try and run through all the possibilities and make sure that the website is setup to cover any common issues or problems a user many encounter.
Be sure to make it obvious to the user what is and what is not clickable on the page for easier navigation. Designers know that a few simple layout guidelines can help lead the users eye to the call to action or other important features of the site.
Always think of the user when you are designing the website. If you have access to user feedback or the ability to invite comments the information you will receive could be website gold.
5. Don’t deviate from the overarching look
Those websites who have an overall theme or feel to them and maintain that throughout, no matter how simple, are the ones that rank high with users.
That is why it is important to be clear with all calls to action consistently throughout the site. This will ensure that the user will be able to clearly identify what is being asked of them.
Any images or icons that are used on a page to signify an action, for example a shopping cart for the checkout link or house icon for the home page, need to look and function the same way each time it appears. Any recognizable features on the site need to be clearly identified to the user.
By keeping the average user in mind, one who may not be skilled at navigation or computers in general, designers will be better able to create a space that is simple, elegant and easy to use. These are the sites that provide the best user experience and will keep customers loyal and coming back.
The best sites for users are ones that are clear and easy to navigate, don’t take too long to load and have a pleasing overarching aesthetic look and feel to them.
It is important to note that there are many testing methods that can be used to gauge the user experience, such as A/B testing or user feedback forms. The information collected in these ways will prove invaluable to improving the site and bringing to the surface any problems that may have previously been overlooked.
Remember, UX is about how much the user is satisfied, starting from website ease-of-use and up to user attaining his/her goals easily.
At Maxiom Technology we offer a full range of award-winning user interface design services that will provide a satisfying journey through your apps and websites and creating striking visuals to match.
Are you ready for a rocking UX/UI design? Request your FREE, no-strings-attached consultation.