Designing The User Experience
The goal of pretty much any website owner is rather simple: get users to keep coming back. This type of reaction to a website is not something that happens by accident. A great design is a business tool that is handcrafted to deliver a specific predetermined experience to a user. Here we’re going to learn what makes a great design and what keeps users coming back.
Purpose & Goal Oriented Design
Design is about solving problems, and great designs serve specific goals just as much as a flawless aesthetic experience. Every design starts with 1-3 specific goals its supposed to meet. These goals normally come from the client as business goals; it’s our job to translate these to user experience goals. By having a measurable concrete goal to strive towards it serves a multitude of purposes.
Having data is the most prominent reason to design towards goals. By creating a goal, you can extract conversion related data from various analytics tools in order to A/B test, but we’ll get to that later. The most obvious reason to design goal oriented is simply to create an experience that works towards getting the user to complete business goals.
By having goals in mind before design you are able to divert the user’s attention to specific areas of the site through call to actions and emotional content. A website and a business’s digital team should be thought of as part of the business plan. Working towards goals, in sync with a qualified team, can equate to higher profits with less expenses.
Make An Impression
Humans typically remember the first and last thing about any experience they have, whether it be a digital or personal real life experience. It’s important that you make a user’s experience with your website memorable, as you typically have 3-5 seconds to get a user to react before they will leave your website.
Strong visuals on your landing page combined with appropriate usage of color, whitespace and typefaces will give you an extra edge when converting those users into the goals you’ve created for the design.
Creating a seamless finish to your design is equally as important as the initial impression. Following up the content in the design with a final call to action, whether that be to a new page, email sign up, or any other experience, is essential to decreasing the rate at which users abandon your website.
Keep It Simple
Minimalism isn’t just a trend for aesthetic purposes, it’s also a conversion related UX strategy. By creating action oriented colors, isolated content, organized whitespace and keeping a design simple, you are helping users reach the goals you set for them. Action oriented colors enable a user to quickly assess what is clickable and what is not on a website.
This behavior modification allows your users to make quick decisions without having to think about it. Isolating content through organized whitespace is another tactic that can be used. Through years of research we all know now that users on the web do not read. By creating an organized layout with the appropriate amount of whitespace you can isolate content into quickly read, impactful sections.
Trying to get too many elements into a design or in one section of a design will have adverse negative effects. It will lead to users not understanding your content and not taking the appropriate next action in your sales funnel.
Designing For Development & Load Time
A huge part of conversion in the digital space comes down to loading time. Typically you have 3-5 seconds once the user hits your URL to get them to take action into the next part of your sales funnel. If 2-3 seconds of that time is spent loading your website then you’ve already lost a huge portion of your users before they were even given the opportunity to convert into a customer.
Furthermore, there are plenty of technical aspects that can improve the success of your website such as:
- designing for development (making it effortless to build)
- designing the website to be responsive (making it mobile ready)
- designing for cross-browser compatibility (making it function across multiple browsers)
Having designers that understand how a website is built is imperative to a successful website. It not only keeps the project on budget, by avoiding any potential road blocks when transitioning from the design phase to development, but it also allows the designer to create unique UX experiences through animation and other interactive techniques.
Effective Use of Color
When our eyes take in a color, our brain has the unique ability to send signals to various sections of the body. This in turn causes the release of hormones that cause fluctuations in our mood and emotions. Research has shown that 90% of all product assessment done has to do with color. By understanding that data, it’s no surprise that color has a big impact on a websites performance and conversion. Different colors also affect specific demographics in unique ways, which is also why discoveries and personas are an important step in the design process.
For example, statistically women don’t gravitate towards gray, orange and brown but do have positive reactions to blue, purple, and green. Colors also translate specific emotions on their own. Blue for example is a calming color that instills trust and loyalty in a user’s mind, which is why it’s the world’s most common color used in advertising.
A/B Testing: Analyzing & Adapting
You’ve got all the building blocks in place for a conversion based design, the stunning visuals, the goal based call to action, but the jobs not done yet. Just as important as the initial impression, so is the continuous image the website puts out for your business. All designs are created based off of years of UX research and personal experience but no design team is clairvoyant. There will always be the ability to improve conversion rates through A/B & User Testing.
By digging through your analytics and setting up heat mapping you can identify and fix issues with the UX such as high bounce rates & low time on page. A/B testing gives you the ability to form a hypothesis on the emotional reaction from a user based on any element on the site including, but not limited to, call to action text, images, and layout.