What Is User Experience Design? (And How To Incorporate It Into Your Website)
Every web designer must ask themselves a simple question when creating their website: how do I want my users to feel when interacting with this site? This question is the very foundation of user experience design (UXD).
There are over 1.6 billion websites on the internet in 2022, and approximately 240 million of those are currently active and available. With such an oversaturation of content, the standards for user experience have increased drastically over the last decade. Today, user experience designers cannot overlook any detail–optimizing everything from their interface’s usability to the visitor’s perceived value of the website and its brand.
Luckily, you don’t have to be a seasoned user experience designer to optimize your website today. Making a few simple changes based on your understanding of your audience can provide visitors with a more enjoyable experience the next time they click your link.
What Is User Experience?
Before going into the design elements and strategies of UXD, it’s important to clarify precisely what we mean by the term user experience (UX). The dictionary definition of UX is simple: “the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or a computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.”
We can narrow down this definition by looking at the specific elements that form user experience. There are seven key elements of UX as defined by the best-selling author and “founding father” of information architecture, Peter Morville. A good user experience relies on your website being:
Is your website design meeting its user’s needs? Your site has to fulfill its purpose to your target audience, whatever that purpose may be. Whether it be to provide practical information on a subject, entertain users, or simply be aesthetically pleasing.
How easy is it for users to achieve that purpose? Is your site user-friendly? Your website’s end users want a smooth, efficient experience that’s both comfortable and satisfying.
Can users find the information they need quickly and easily? Make sure to structure your content in a way that makes finding answers seamless. This will also help your SEO as strong internal linking helps you rank better in search engines too!
Can your brand and your product or service be trusted? Your website visitors cannot have an enjoyable experience if they think you’re lying or being malicious.
Is your website appealing to your visitors? The designs you use, your brand’s image, and your website’s emotional design all contribute to its desirability.
Can anyone use your website? Your website should be accessible to everyone–this means considering the needs of people with various disabilities and implementing accessibility functionality.
Does the website deliver value to your visitors? Remember that value can be perceived differently depending on your user and their goal when visiting your website; it’s important to conduct user research to understand what your target audience wants.
What Is User Experience Design?
Now that you know the seven elements of UX, you’re on your way to understanding great user experience design (UXD). UXD is the process of creating a product or web page that will meet the needs of your audience. This means understanding whether the seven elements of UX are being used to improve the experience of your website’s visitors at every step of the design process.
User Experience Design (UX Design) Versus User Interface Design (UI Design)
User experience and user interface are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are pretty distinct from each other.
Think of user experience as being the overarching term for the entire process of cultivating an enjoyable experience for your visitors. It includes everything from researching your audience to creating wireframes, writing and designing content, and even maintaining the website after launch.
On the other hand, the user interface can be described as a resulting product of UXD–i.e., the front face of what your visitors will interact with. As an example, your website’s usability and accessibility are UX elements that can result from smooth, efficient UI. This can include things like the use of responsive buttons, proper typography, or mobile usability.
If you want your visitors to connect with your website and brand, you can’t simply create an interface and leave it at that–you have to create an experience.
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How To Incorporate UX Design Into Your Website
If you’re ever struggling to think of a way to improve UX on your website, think back to the seven elements of UX we listed above. Ultimately, it all comes down to understanding your audience and what they’re looking for. With this understanding, you can leverage the information to improve their visit. Here are some general UXD tips to always keep in mind:
Put Yourself In Your Visitor’s Shoes
Always remember that good UX design begins with empathy. Understand your visitor’s motivations, needs, and pain points on both small and large scales. Document the user journey and map your content to it. Try to relate to your ideal user, asking yourself: What would I be looking for if I visited this landing page? What would I be looking for from the brand overall?
Research, Research, Research
Research is your greatest weapon–and it doesn’t stop after the research stage. If you’ve read through the forums your audiences visit, conducted your interviews, completed their user personas, and conducted all the other kinds of UX research–you’re still not done. Consumer objectives and habits are constantly evolving, and so are your competitors, which means you must stay up to date and adapt to them continually.
Websites Aren’t Read, They’re Skimmed
Unfortunately, most people won’t sit down and carefully read every word of content you wrote (it’s tragic, we know). This makes brevity and simplicity essential to having a successful landing page–or any page for that matter. Removing unnecessary elements and words can help you get your message across faster, and your audience will appreciate you for it.
Keep The User Flow Smooth
There’s nothing more annoying than visiting a landing page and instantly getting a pop-up to subscribe to a newsletter, with only a tiny exit button in the corner. Things like pop-ups disrupt the user flow, making them a great way to increase your visitor bounce rate and tank your website’s ranking.
Responsiveness Is Key
Always remember that the little things make a big difference when it comes to responsiveness. Your visitors want feedback on their interactions. This is why many of the best websites incorporate micro animations into their buttons, images, and other elements when the user clicks or moves their cursor over them. Responsiveness also extends to optimizing your website speed and resolution to work properly on multiple screens and devices.
Don’t Let User Experience Design Intimidate You
As long as you understand and relate to the needs of your target audience, the design of your website’s user experience will come naturally. Many additional resources are available online to smooth out the wrinkles, such as finding the best interface elements to use or creating user personas.