June 13, 2016 Website Design

User Experience Design: Website Friend or Foe

Part 1: User experience and design excellence can keep customers coming back

Is your target audience spending less and less time on your website? Have you seen a lot of traffic on your ecommerce site but no one is buying? Do you find shopping carts are being abandoned at check out? Are prospects coming to your home page and leaving immediately? Have you often sat back wondering why your social media, SEO and flashy website are failing to meet your goals?

These are all glaring signs that your website is failing to do its job effectively, and the culprit is very likely the user experience (UX) you’ve created.

I sometimes hesitate to talk about UX design because people inevitably launch excitedly into colours, images and flashy features they envision for a website. And, when I try to clarify what UX design really means, I get a confused look that says “but that’s what I was just describing, we want a dark background with a spinning logo and videos …”

So let me be very clear: That’s not user experience design, that’s just design (and design elements that are doomed for failure).

The first step in creating excellence in UX design is clearly defining the purpose of your site or application.�

Why do you have a website?  What is it intended to do?  After all, how can you monitor the success or failure of a website or web application if you haven’t really articulated what it is supposed to do, who you are targeting and how you measure its effectiveness?

[Read our previous blog — Is Your Website Doing Its Job?]

Once you understand these things and clearly define them, you can start to frame out the key features and elements that your target visitor needs to find based on that specific, defined purpose. This is where we start to get into the fundamentals of an effective UX and user interface (UI) design.

 

Now, a couple definitions:

USER EXPERIENCE (UX) is the user’s qualitative and emotional impression when interacting with your site as well as their experience performing tasks. Improving usability and enhancing ease-of-use, while making your site intuitive and enjoyable, leads to a positive user experience.

USER INTERFACE (UI) speaks to the look and feel, as well as the layout, navigation controls, labels and content, and how the information is organized.

 

UX and UI are overlapping concepts, but when you combine both effectively, visitors will be able to interact intuitively and seamlessly with your site, creating a positive experience.

Steve Krug’s book appropriately titled “Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability” captures a simple premise for good design and experience.

“Your objective should always be to eliminate instructions entirely by making everything self-explanatory, or as close to it as possible. When instructions are absolutely necessary, cut them back to a bare minimum,” Krug says. “The fact that the people who built the site didn’t care enough to make things obvious—and easy—can erode our confidence in the site and the organization behind it.”

When designing your web application or website, you need to set priorities based on the purpose you’ve defined.  If your website’s purpose is for customer self-service, you wouldn’t want to bury account access three layers deep. If you have an e-commerce site, you want your customers to be able to find what they are looking to buy as quickly as possible and to make it as easy as possible to complete a purchase in the fewest possible clicks.

Is it possible to have a good UI and bad UX or vice versa? The answer is yes.  A voice activated application has no UI per se but can have an excellent UX. Craigslist has a loyal following who love the experience on the site, but few people would say the interface is attractive or compelling.  We’ve also seen e-commerce sites that had a beautiful and eye-catching UI, but the process of signing up for an account to complete a purchase was difficult and frustrating which led to a drop in sales – this would be an example of a good UI but bad UX.

I’d argue these are the exceptions not the rule and most businesses should strive to achieve an excellent experience on your site, and a visually compelling interface that makes your customers want to keep coming back again and again, which means more sales, better leads and ultimately, business growth.

Next time, we’ll take a look at the principles of good UX/UI to help your business unlock the power and potential of your website or application.

Contact us to see how we can help your website do its job effectively.

 


This is part 5 of our blog series “Is Your Website Doing Its Job?” — read the rest here:

Part 1: Is Your Website Doing Its Job?
Part 2: I Never Thought I Would Blog. I Was Wrong.
Part 3: Is Your Social Media Strategy Doing Its Job?
Part 4: SEO’s Integral Role in Helping Your Website Do Its Job.
Part 6: Steps to get User Experience and Design Right.