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UX: considering the user experience

Although not a new idea, user experience has not always been at the forefront of web design consideration. But now, it's essential.

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Blue Pixel Top Left
Rob M
Posted by Rob M
15 October 2015
   

 

So much has changed over the years we've been a web agency: mobile internet usage has rocketed, the number of device types continues to grow, but the most significant change is the almost total shift to user-centred design.

 

A new way of designing

You see, there was a time, not too long ago, that many of our kind lived in ignorant bliss – designing websites willy-nilly in a way that pleased ourselves and, if we were lucky, our clients.

But as the numbers grew, leaders emerged – and they weren’t necessarily the forerunners but the ones with a fresh approach who pioneered the user as the most important consideration. It sounds so obvious now, but many of us were too busy making Flash intros and trying to use the smallest possible pixel-fonts to think about "the user".

How much do you think about your users? Who are they? How can you give them a better experience and how will that help your website’s performance in the marketplace?

 

Your users are not you

Successfully designing a user experience requires that you put the user at the centre of every design decision you make. So you need to identify who your users are.

Of course you’ve already done that – you wouldn’t have a business, otherwise. Take note: they are not you, not your directors, not your computer-whizz-kid nephew, but your target audience. The same people that walk into your shop or visit your office. The people to whom you would offer a smile, a cup of tea, a reward for their loyalty.

Since you’ve already identified your target audience, you’ll know that they have specific needs and requirements, particular tastes, be comfortable in certain environments… These are precisely the kinds of things that should be directly injected into your UX considerations.

Download our guide to creating an effective user experience

 

Start by being polite

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Good UX design is translating those human interactions that come so naturally to us in the real world, into online experiences.

Maybe you’ve identified that your audience prefers quick and straightforward transacting over configurable, bespoke order-building. In that case, keep the customer journey as short as possible. But don’t just think about what you would do; think also about what you wouldn’t.

For example, would you thrust a customer survey in front of somebody as soon as they walk through your door?

Would you shout, “CAN I HAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS?” every minute?

Would you hold the door closed as they’re trying to leave?

Of course you wouldn’t (although we do know of a couple of ecommerce plugins that do this…). At the very least, you should meet their expectations and you should aim to exceed them. Start by being polite.

Good UX design appeals to human senses. If it is created with a consideration for emotional responses, it will help to form a relationship by overcoming obstacles and barriers, gaining trust, and giving your users confidence in your offering.

 

Reinforcing your brand isn’t about getting your logo as big as you can

As people, when something is presented to us consistently, it leads to recognition, and recognition leads to trust. Having a shallow learning-curve for using your website means that people will gain confidence, satisfaction and empowerment in their ability to navigate it quickly and easily.

The opposite is also true – inconsistencies lead to frustration; complicated systems make people feel less adequate.

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Consistency of your brand’s appearance and personality across all customer-facing aspects of your business is paramount.

It’s not about getting your logo as big as you can, but more about creating an environment that becomes familiar and therefore trustworthy, where the visuals and language that you use reflect that of the business.

 

Making the process smoother, clearer and focused

Every effort you make to understand your users will be repaid given time. If you’re looking at rethinking your website, everything we’ve mentioned here is a consideration that you can make without the need to employ a specialist. It is a free investment but the returns can be great. When the time comes, your foundation work will make the web-design process smoother, clearer and focused.

 

More art than science

UX design is an iterative process and you will probably need the help of professionals when it comes to the looping process of learning, building and measuring.

It is certainly more of an art than a science (the very presence of the word "design" in the title should serve as a reminder that it is subjective) but where you’ll see your work bearing fruit is as your website reaches its full potential, with increasing levels of enquiries and revenue.

Splitpixel’s mantra has always been "we design until you’re 100% happy". With a good few years under our belts, and with a complete shift towards user-centred design, we like to think we’re working towards making users 100% happy, too.

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