The process of thoughtfully improving a website or digital product's ease-of-use and user flow through customer-focused design, is half science, half art, but it's key to retaining and converting visitors, and maximizing your website investment.
Aesthetically-pleasing design and flashy trends won't safeguard your site from usability issues or guarantee a valuable customer journey. In fact, they frequently get in the way. Great user experience (UX), requires planning, testing, and investing in strategic design resources up front, but a well-designed and well-defined user interface reduces rework and wasted development time, decreases customer support calls, and, most importantly, increases customer retention rates and sales.
In fact, according to Forbes, every dollar devoted to user experience returns $10 to $100. Forrester agrees, finding that visit-to-lead conversions can be 400% higher on sites with a "superior user experience."
Don't turn off your prospects and customers with a sub-par, friction-filled website. Follow our 4 simple UX principles and best practices to improve your site's ease-of-use, solve customer pain points, deliver memorable brand experiences, and increase conversions.
UX Tip #1: Know Your User
Think of your website as the yellow brick road: it's your job to create the most intuitive path to guide users to content or products they're seeking, answer questions, and help them make decisions, take action, and accomplish their intended goals.
To design the best yellow brick road, you need to understand your core audience - what's important to them? Are they browsing or looking for specific products or information? How tech savvy are they? Do they even like yellow?!
Jokes aside, your customers notice when you're not noticing them. Salesforce found 50% consumers are likely to switch brands if a company doesn't anticipate their needs.
Take time to understand your audience makeup and typical buying or browsing patterns. Pay attention (I.E. track and measure) how they're interacting with your site and where they're bouncing (giving up and leaving the site).
Look at the entire experience holistically and identify where you can better meet users' needs. Everything from visitor demographics to device preferences offer clues on how to design users' best online customer journey.
UX Tip #2: Visual Hierarchy is a Must
Humans are visual creatures, constantly seeking comfort in patterns and context clues. A focused visual hierarchy acts as a compilation of cues by combining size, color, contrast, shape, positioning, and arrangement to suggest to users how to navigate, interact, and consume your website.
Purposeful site organization and consistent design elements guides users on taking action or exploring the website as you intended. Where do you want them to click or visit next? What action do you want them to take? Gain control of user attention by strategically prioritizing key elements to encourage engagement and achieve goals.
Here are several fundamental techniques in establishing an intuitive visual hierarchy:
- Scale and Size: the larger an element or font, the more attention it receives.
- Color and Contrast: our eyes are naturally drawn to bright and bold colors, however, stark contrast achieves the same goal. Color contrast helps users quickly identify actionable elements and important information.
- White Space: please emphasis on target areas and elements, and improves comprehension. (Read more below!)
- Scanning Patterns: your placement of important elements should align with user's natural eye path. See more about eye path here.
UX Tip #3: White Space is Your Friend
Simplicity and clarity are two essential elements of UX design. The key to accomplishing both? White space (a.k.a. negative space) is your best friend for making scanning and reading content easier.
White space is the area between design elements, such as:
- Margins, padding, and gutters
- Space around graphics and images
- Line-spacing and letter-spacing within text and between columns
Whitespace is critical in creating a clean and uncluttered user experience. When properly implemented, whitespace between paragraphs and left and right margins increases comprehension and user attention by nearly 20%.
Make your website feel more modern, organized, and impactful with purposeful breathing room and balance. Utilize negative space to guide visitors through the site, by highlighting and drawing attention to relevant content and actionable items, such as calls-to-action (CTAs) and forms.
Don't forget, white space doesn't have to be white! It can be any color and pattern, or even a background image.
UX Tip #4: Consistency is Key
In the words of UX expert Jakob Nielsen, "Consistency is one of the most powerful usability principles: when things always behave the same, users don't have to worry about what will happen."
A consistent and intuitive design across webpages improves the overall user experience, eliminates confusion, reduces learning time, and creates a sense of familiarity, credibility, and comfort throughout your site and across devices.
Establish uniformity by standardizing heading sizes, fonts, colors, button styles, graphics, and spacing on every page. Tell your story with a coherent voice and dependable tone.
Harmonize interactions across your site with clear navigation and consistent design, so the user journey is understandable, predictable, and persistent. By doing this, you reduce opportunities for frustration, enhance ease-of-use, and increase the likelihood of visitors engaging longer and more frequently.
(Remember, being consistent, does not mean boring!)
Does Your UX Measure Up?
Visitors decide within seconds to stay, or abandon your site for an alternative, based on design, functionality, and overall experience. In fact, Adobe found that customers who have an unpleasant experience on your site are 88% less likely to return to your website.
A positive user experiences leads to happier, repeat visitors, increased word of mouth, higher engagement rates, and increased conversions. Get started enhancing your users' experience with our 4 simple UX principles and best practices.
Good UX can be easy to identify, but difficult to deliver. Need help making the most of your user experience? Get in touch to speak with one of our design experts.
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