We all know the feeling, you enter a website and immediately your anxiety levels rocket. Pop-ups, clashing colours and a patchwork of text are boring into your eyeballs. You look for the pathway to where you want to go, and suddenly it’s like you’re Alice trying to find your way out of Tulgey Wood, but there are no more paths to help point you in the right direction. You stubbornly continue until you find what you need, with the rage of the Queen of Hearts in the pit of your stomach. Or you just click out and give up. Raging. Momentarily exhausted and reaching for the Prozac.
Is it any real surprise then that 75% of users admit they decide on a company’s credibility based on its website’s design?
In extreme contrast, take those websites which exude a calm serenity, with plenty of white space, a simple layout and which immediately lead you down a delightful short and direct path to exactly where you want to go, with bluebirds and bunnies walking alongside. Such websites feel so good, and have undoubtedly had thoughtful and good UX design invested into their creation.
But what is UX design, or more importantly, what is good UX design, and is it worth the investment?
All websites (and non-digital products) have in some way had UX design applied to them; whether intentionally or not, somebody made a decision about how that site (or product) looks and behaves. A site with good UX design understands and fulfils the needs of those visiting, enabling easy completion of tasks, whilst motivating and engaging the user to stay that bit longer. This, of course, can convert into increased revenue in a sales context, and a returning, satisfied user no matter what the type of business.
Five key elements of good and thoughtful UX design are:
1. Visual design - a company which invests in a skilful UX department will be constantly identifying web trends and their longevity, ensuring that visual trends, visual clues, fonts, colour palettes and layouts applied to their website will achieve a high level of customer satisfaction, and will also remain attractive and pleasing to use for the foreseeable future.
2. Information architecture– this is the site structure. Well-planned site architecture enables the user to understand where they are, and where the information they want is in relation to their position. Information architecture results in the creation of site maps, hierarchies, categorisations, navigation, and metadata.
3. UX research – understanding your customer’s reactions and experiences on your website or software, which in turn validates decisions made in the UX design process.
4. Interaction design– a focus on the functionality required to accomplish the task.
5. Usability – it’s no longer ok to just have a satisfactory website that functions. User-centred design makes the understanding of human values intrinsic to the design process. Frustration should be eliminated and positive, fun and thoughtful emotions should be evoked. A well-designed product should feel meaningful and seductive to the user and deliver a successful outcome.
When you consider that 68% of users leave a website because of poorly designed UX; 85% of UX problems can be solved by testing with five users; 44% of online shoppers will tell friends about a bad experience online; 62% of customers base their future purchases on past experiences, and that every $1 invested in UX returns up to $100, it is undeniable that investing in good UX design is necessary to achieve success and memorability within the marketplace.
I'll leave you with this insightful explainer video: What the #$%@ is UX Design?
So next time you visit a website that’s a dream to use, remember that it didn’t just happen by accident.