Designing an Effective Web-Based User Experience
During website design, prioritizing the user is important. In fact, businesses prioritize usability over a variety of features. Vital information needs to be relayed, products require promotion and services require quick, decisive placement. Above all: Information is key.
Unfortunately, a lot of designer teams, IT departments and digital marketers become “caught up” in comprehensive website design. Comprehensive website design, itself, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. That said, the principles of crafting an effective web experience are centric to customer expectations. Check out the guide below, and fortify your website for fantastic results, positive user reception and—of course—a memorable experience.
First, Understand Your Visitors
To tailor a website to your users, you’ll need to understand them. If you’re crafting a website’s design, and if you can’t conduct customer research, you’ll likely create an irrelevant—or, worse, generic—website experience. Providers like Usability.gov have pinpointed the characteristics—and features—of powerful user experiences. Each surrounds initial user targeting, examination and analysis.
Find out how old most of your users are. Additionally, determine their gender identification. Location is important, too. You should determine the operating system most of your visitors use, too, as well as household income. You’d be surprised how much of a user’s experience can be determined by their ability to cohabitate in the digital world—which is governed by their system’s limitations.
By gathering demographic information, you can determine who your users are. This is important, as any comprehensive data gathered will be relevant to your website’s ease of accessibility—particularly with any interactive elements.
Next, Study User Flow
In the past, user flow was called “flow mapping.” In 2017, flow mapping tools are widely accessible. They essentially measure which part of your website is viewed the most. These “hot” areas of activity will be important spots for your UI. They’ll also be important resources when plotting out your elements.
To design the ultimate user experience, you’ll need to consider the average user’s objective. Smashing Magazine suggests quantifying user objectives with analytical tracking. Then, match these objectives with your objectives, which may include:
- Gaining subscribers
- Generating leads
- Securing purchases
- Securing downloads
- Securing phone calls
By watching user flows, you’ll be able to see every level of engagement. More importantly: You’ll be able to determine areas of discord. Where are your users not looking? Which user objectives are they not fulfilling? Once you look at your in-depth user flows, you’ll be able to assign different values to your web page’s various areas. Then, you can repurpose links, UIs, shopping cart buttons and your audience’s experience.
Website Elements and User Behavior
Here’s the fun part. You’ll need to use “website psychology” to pinpoint each user’s wants, needs and emotions. Then, you’ll need to use it to prompts feedback, engagement and—of course—purchases. The user’s web experience can be boiled down to several factors—and each factor can be influenced by design elements. During a Google and IBM eye tracking study, subjects were determined to spend 34 percent more time looking at large fonts than small fonts, for example. In general, take the following website elements into consideration:
Color should be your first stop. In most cases, you’ll benefit from using a consistent palette. If your website has a pre-existing logo, base your palette around it. If your website’s every page carries a similar color scheme, it’ll be cohesive, psychologically attractive and energetic. Check out this article created by Kissmetrics for an in-depth rundown of color psychology.
You’d be surprised how much of a user’s experience is based upon link spacing, font distance and line breaks. All text and images need to be, again, digestible. For content to be consumed quickly, it needs to be appetizing. In general, the following spatial designs won’t work:
- Large paragraphs
- A tight, complex menu
- Too many purchasing options
- Missing content
- Large gaps
While “large gaps,” in particular, can be debated—it’s important to make sure any spaces are used correctly. Big gaps allude to a website’s missing content, which can confuse users. Similarly, jam-packed text will divert traffic. You should prioritize well-spaced content, and take the following spatial designs into consideration to make a cohesive, easily understood website:
- Concise sentences
- Clickable menu pictures
- Intuitive purchasing areas
In general, website navigators have a series of objectives to be completed. Before spacing their objectives out in an intuitive way, ask the following question about your website’s content:
- Who is reading this page?
- When do they need to access this content?
- Why does your audience need this content?
- Where will this content lead?
There’s a reason e-commerce business operators pay attention to cart abandonment rates. Check out the following statistics gathered through Business Insider:
- 46.1 percent of cart abandonments happen during payment.
- 35.7 percent occur when buyers see shipping details
- 37.4 percent occur during checkout login portals
In essence: Your buyers don’t want to wait around. They’re also more likely to fulfill your business’s needs if they’re enticed throughout objective fulfillment. For this reason, there should be a logical progression of steps. Purchases should be easy, and one-click ordering options should be considered.
Finally, Set Up a System of Constant Analysis
As with any digital marketing effort, e-commerce campaign or social media marketing goal, ongoing analysis is needed to ensure the upkeep, effectiveness and maintenance of your website. You should adopt a few analytical practices to do this, while keeping your website’s information architecture in mind.
Measure Ease of Learning
Use analytical tools to determine each user interface’s abandonment rate. In particular, determine the likelihood of learning abandonment. A variety of tools exist to measure this timeframe, which will be useful for the creation of ongoing incentives and intuitive layouts.
Additionally, you should measure each user’s ability to memorize your website’s information. Are they navigating backwards through pages? Are they failing to retain check-out information? Some of your cart abandonments may be due to failed memory with purchasing options displayed within your first page’s content.
Measure Subjective Satisfaction
Subjective information can be difficult to measure. That said, feedback forms, social media portals and even phone call prompts can assist with your collection of subjective opinions. Every method used to gather information, itself, should be subjective. Prompt your users to explore feedback options. Use polls, but suggest the use of custom comments. If possible, utilize a PR team to generate back-and-forth feedback.
In a lot of cases, your users will have a varied web experience. This is okay. By linking your website’s options to a variety of external resources—such as social media accounts, mobile app downloads and digital payment options—you’ll further your ability to comprehend their satisfaction. Often, studying user responses takes time. Likewise, it’ll take time to determine shifting market values, shifting consumer values and shifting consumer needs.
Rest assured, however, that the average user’s want to continue using your website is, in fact, determinable. Study your market’s wants, needs and concerns, and don’t be afraid to invest time and experience into crafting mobile-accessible websites, either. Many users utilize smartphone access to explore products, read reviews and determine in-store purchases well before a product is settled upon. For this reason, you’ll need to create an environment conducive to instant access, ease of use and definitive payment options.