“Design is not just about what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
– Steve Jobs
Websites should be intuitive and easy to use.
When building a new website, it’s very important that you consider the usability of the site. There are many other factors to take into account, such as keeping the client happy, and making the site look great, but if it is difficult to use or navigate, visitors are likely to leave before they have seen what the website has to offer.
There are many do’s and don’ts when it comes to creating a great user experience, some of which are obvious; such as having a simple, logical way of navigating the site, and avoiding annoying pop-ups. Others are often overlooked, such as the actual content on the site, which should be highly relevant, focused, and targeted at the specific audience that the website is aimed at.
This post will look into some of the design aspects that are important to think about when designing a website.
Simple to use, logical navigation
One of the most commonly discussed aspects of great user focused web design, is the navigation. Without the ability to move easily through the site to get to the content they are looking for, they are likely to leave. On the other hand, a straight forward, intuitive navigation will not only allow visitors to find what they’re looking for, but may also encourage them to explore the other areas of the site.
Relevant Content & Style
When it comes to the content on a website, it’s really important to focus on the audience that is being targeted, and how you want to come across to them. On a good website, all content, whether it’s blog posts, video tutorials, product descriptions or any other type of content, will all be tailored to appeal to the chosen target audience. A website with focused content that is highly targeted and relevant to a specific audience helps add value to your site, and increase your chances of appealing to potential customers or subscribers.
Another important aspect of a website that is user-focused is the way the message is communicated. Again, this is achieved by tailoring the message to suit a specific target audience, and the message should be consistent throughout the website.
The style of the website and content is yet another important factor to bear in mind when designing a website, as this is will have an instant impact of visitors, and as we all know, first impressions count! It’s hard to appeal everyone when it comes to design: There will always be some who like it, and some who don’t, but the style must be appropriate for the target audience. For example, an effective style for a insurance company’s website would be formal, informative, easy to navigate, and designed to create a sense of trust in it’s visitors. The style of a website can be a subtle way of enticing visitors to stay longer on the site if they embrace the style and feel as though it resonates with their own style, so they feel as though they fit in.
Visible Contact Details
One aspect, that may seem obvious, but is often overlooked, is having visible contact details in plain site on the homepage, if not all pages. Some visitors may want to phone you to discuss something they have seen on the site, or may simply prefer to contact you directly over the phone, rather than email, so having easy-to-find contact details is an easy way to give some visitors what they want.
Anticipation & Understanding of Potential User Questions
No matter how well a website has been designed to cater for and inform a specific target audience, some visitors are bound to still have questions. It’s good practice to try and put yourself in the head of the audience and try to anticipate the questions they may have when reading content, or considering making a purchase.
One way to address questions that visitors may have, is to create a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page. This can include questions and answers that help break down barriers to purchase or subscription by informing and re-assuring those who may have queries.
Google analytic’s can help determine where visitors are dropping off the site. If there’s an unusually high drop off rate on a certain page, then steps should be taken to address the issues on that page. Similarly, if there are a lot of questions coming through relating to a similar topic, consider adding some content that explains the topic and answers the question in greater detail.
The issue of accessibility is one that plays a hugely important role in user-focused design – if a visitor can’t access the content on a website, it is of no use to them, and is as far away from user-focused as you can get. There is a vast amount to talk about when it comes to discussing accessibility. Fat too much to discuss in this post, but you certainly want to consider your target audience. Think about what they will be accessing the website on, and make sure the site is accessible to them. Thorough cross-browser and device testing should be carried out to make the site as accessible as possible.
What do you think?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments box below. What do you expect from a user-focused website, and what do you feel is most important?