User Experience (UX) is arguably the most important aspect of web design. Wikipedia gives a broad definition:
"User experience design (UX, UXD, UED or XD) is the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product."
To some extent this entails a blend of market research, graphic design and strategic development of the user interface (or UI).
I've outlined some important aspects of UX below.
Knowledge of audience or client demographics is vital - any website or app should be designed with the end user in mind. A good UX designer will research their clients audience, industry, and competitors extensively before undertaking any conceptual work.
Once the audience has been identified then comes the task of anticipating their needs. Using web analytics and research it is possible to guess what an audience is likely to want / need when they visit a site or use an app.
This essentially means making all the most commonly used functions and pages easily accessible and intuitive to use.
By now most web and app users have a reasonable degree of literacy in navigation. However, as designers we need to cater for everyone, which means making sure the UI (User Interface) is clear, concise and intuitive.
Responsive web design simply refers to websites that can adapt to different screen sizes and resolutions. This means that you will only need one website for desktop, tablet and mobile devices instead of designing a new layout for each different version.
Today most people go online with mobile devices in a huge variety of screen densities and sizes. A well designed responsive website will look good on all devices and rank better in SEO ratings.
While Google keeps changing the it's rules on how it ranks websites to stop people 'gaming the system', there are a number of things that can be done to ensure your website gets a clean bill of SEO health.
These include: correct use of meta-tags and code, reputable links to and from your website, fresh relevant content, and user engagement.
User interface refers to what you see on the screen in front of you - If UX is the actor, then UI is the role they play. A good UI will help to define and accentuate the following:
Once we have analysed and anticipated the audience, we should have a good idea of what they want to do and were they want to go. All the most commonly used pages and functionality will be clearly available and easy to use.
At any location within the website or app, the user should only be one or two clicks or taps away from where they need to be. The less clicks or actions required for an activity by the user, the better.
One click good, two clicks bad.
While it sounds complex, 'information hierarchy' simply refers to the importance given to each bit of information or element in a layout.
If you want to encourage your audience to call, a big phone number and colourful graphic at the top of the website homepage would help.
If your business is a restaurant, then a link to the menu should be easy to see and navigate to from the first page.
Developing an effective information hierarchy is a balance between giving your clients what they want, and influencing them where needed.
Above all a website should be functional. Animations and cool effects can look great, but as soon as they interfere with functionality, they should go.
This means making the website / app as clean and clear as possible, always keeping it's main purpose in mind, and using experienced developers.
If you'd like to know more or have any specific questions, you can get in touch via the contact button, or ask for a quote.
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“User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are some of the most confused and misused terms in our field. A UI without UX is like a painter slapping paint onto canvas without thought; while UX without UI is like the frame of a sculpture with no paper mache on it. A great product experience starts with UX followed by UI. Both are essential for the product’s success.”