How does one define a great website?
Is it easy to navigate or use? Do visual appeal, content placement, and color contrasts constitute a great website design?
The answer to all of these questions is yes. A website and a mobile app will be said to have a great design when they offer a good user experience. Now, what exactly is user experience?
User Experience or UX is a creative process that designers use to develop products that are: useful, desirable, usable, valuable, accessible, findable, and credible. It is how your user feels when they interact with your website.
Your products should offer meaningful and relevant experiences to the users. And you should and would be able to create these experiences after getting an understanding of the values, needs, limitations, and abilities of the users.
The better the user experience you provide, the higher are the chances of users sticking to your product for a longer period of time.
There are 5 E’s of user experience design that helps define a problem more precisely and in a more human-centric way. Once you have your problem defined, it can become easier to find solutions. A simple ‘it is not user friendly’ would hardly suffice when you are trying to define a problem.
The 5 E’s that are considered as the basis of UX principles include:
- Effective: How accurately are goals being achieved?
- Efficient: How quickly are tasks being completed by the user?
- Engaging: How is consumer interaction? Is the product pleasant and satisfying to use?
- Error Tolerance: How quickly can errors be resolved by users? Also, how quickly are the users able to make the changes in case of any mistakes committed by them.
- Ease of Learning: How well does a product support orientation and continued learning of the user?
These 5 E’s are important to ensure good usability of a design, be it a website or a mobile application. Thus, these 5E’s should be kept in mind when working on the UX principles mentioned below.
But if you are wondering why you need a good user experience, here are a couple of reasons.
Why You Need To Offer Good User Experience
A good user experience and user interface suggest a good website design. This is important not only to ensure your user’s brand loyalty but also helps boost your SEO efforts. Hire a SEO reseller If you were under the impression that website design has no effect on pushing your website to the top ranks, you were certainly mistaken.
When you offer a good experience, your users tend to stick around for longer. A good experience also means the speed of your website is optimized, it’s easy to consume information, and the content mentioned on your website is relevant for the audience.
All these combined triggers the algorithm that your website is valuable. This can help give your SEO a major boost. You can always use tools like a free website checker to check your speed, analyze the changes, and monitor the results.
Here are the UX principles that you must follow in order to create a great website design.
User Experience Principles For A Good Website Design
It is important to keep these user experience principles in mind to ensure your users are always around. If you are not sure about how you can design a website, you can always hire professionals.
For example, let us suppose you are looking to start an eCommerce store in Auckland. You can easily find a creative agency for web design in Auckland to make sure your users have a great experience when they come across your website. It’s better to find a professional rather than offer a poor user experience. Make sure you are comparing past work and prices before choosing your designer.
Here are the principles to keep in mind:
Keep it minimalistic
If your users are not able to easily find what they came looking for on your website, it will lead to them having a poor user experience.
Hence, you should be working towards eliminating unnecessary barriers that are spoiling the user experience. This will help them achieve what they have been searching for, whether it’s information or a particular product.
How can you do this? By keeping your interface design simple and minimal.
If you add too many irrelevant elements like useless controls or out-of-place content, it can clutter up the entire website. As a result, it will make it difficult for users to find what they want.
Remove all the distractions and only display what is absolutely needed. Any kind of fluff will be looked down upon. Keep your layouts simple and structured. It helps in effectiveness and efficiency.
When your user is browsing the website, they will not have you around. So, you need to make sure your UI design is self-explanatory.
You can do this by ensuring your website is extremely easy to navigate. You can display a navigation menu at the top of the website and give access to different content, features, information, or products to the users with the help of that menu.
When you are designing your UI, you should consider mental modes. These are nothing but an idea that a user already has about how certain things work. Let’s take the hamburger icon, for example.
Thanks to Facebook that made it famous, whenever we see a hamburger icon (three lines placed one above the other), we already know is an icon for the menu. This is one of the many habits that customers have developed in the past years and you should definitely consider them.
Lastly, ensure consistency in the language you are using, your tone, and even other elements like color palettes and date pickers. This will ensure harmony and make your web layout easily learnable.
Easy to use
Out of the 5E’s, one of them is efficiency. This depends on how quickly a user can complete his or her tasks. Thus, you should focus on keeping your design easy to understand and use.
To do this, start by thinking about how you can keep the number of scrolls and clicks to a minimum. Keeping them minimalized helps speed up the process. If you are wondering how long every task should take, it’s not more than 2 minutes.
You can also use accelerators to help users reach their goals quickly.
You will have users who have been actively using your product or a product similar to yours. You don’t want them finishing their task at the same time as beginners.
That’s where accelerators come into the picture. These are controls that help quicken up things. More often than not, this is where most tasks are finished using keyboard shortcuts. For example, we all know Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V as universal tools for copying and pasting. You can find tools similar to these.
When you give your beginner users a chance to enjoy the website conventionally and offer accelerators to your existing users, it offers a remarkable experience for both.
Keep the language simple
We have already discussed your language should be consistent. But this consistent language should be simple and extremely easy to understand. Write like you are writing for a 6th grader, as Interaction Design Foundation suggests.
If you’re doubtful whether your language is simple enough or not, there are plenty of tools like Grammarly to help you out. Such tools help you understand the level of readers suited for the content you have added to your website.
This simple language will make it easy for users to complete their tasks quickly. With the kind of lifestyle we all have today, it can often become difficult to pause and take a moment to read through the content. We want something that can be read in a hurry or something we can skim through.
Thus, create content suitable for a shorter attention span. Also, avoid using jargon or clusters, or being wordy wherever possible. You don’t want to make your users open a dictionary to understand the meaning of certain words.
Also, when you are adding instructions to your website, make sure everything is crystal clear. Make it short, clear, and useful.
Suppose it’s a form for a travel website where you are asking users to fill in a date, your error message could read ‘an arrival date is required. It’s simple, short, and sweet.
It’s crucial to make information architecture more user-friendly. You can do this by prioritizing content. This enables users to find relevant information easily and quickly. But how do you prioritize content? By using the card sorting method.
Card sorting is basically a testing technique used by UX designers to identify the best structure for information architecture. In this process, you sort cards (labels and groups) on the website more intuitively.
This is done after considering factors like the user’s mental models or by thinking about how your user would expect things to be layered.
It’s best to work on information architecture before you’ve initiated designing your website. This will give you time to go through the content and pick only the relevant information.
Relevant and valuable content
Effectiveness is one of the 5 E’s that can only be achieved by offering relevant content to your users. When a user visits your website, they are searching for something, most probably a solution.
Now, to make your website relevant for your users, it’s best to ensure your menu and categories reveal good, sought-after content. You should also check the order content is revealed; it should make sense to your audience.
If you are using your website to sell products, it’s best to have your most popular items mentioned in the navigation bar first, followed by the least popular ones. This will make the user experience better and also increase the chances of your visitors turning into consumers.
Error tolerant elements
We have already talked about how error tolerance on your website is about resolving errors quickly or immediately giving users a chance to make the changes in case of any mistakes.
But why should you be following this principle? Because your users are humans and humans are prone to make mistakes. It is only natural.
Moreover, chances are that most users that come across your website are in a hurry (let’s be real, no one has enough time in today’s work culture). Thus, your users should be able to resolve all the errors as soon as they make them.
Let us take an example
Suppose you have a form embedded in your website and your user makes a mistake or leaves a box blank and presses the ‘Submit’ or ‘Done’ button. Now, if you ask your users to fill in all the blanks again by refreshing the website, it can be frustrating. As a result, spoiling the user experience.
You should simply highlight the blanks and retain all the other information filled in by the user. Furthermore, you should also be adding relevant and useful information like ‘Please add your address clearly.
An even better experience could be automatic scrolling up to the missed blank as the user clicks on the ‘Submit’ button. You should also add warning messages like ‘If you press the back button, the transaction will be canceled’ to further improve the user experience.
Well-designed error pages
Technical issues are pretty common. You can do everything in your power to make sure your users don’t have to face error pages, but honestly, it doesn’t always work as you want it to.
So, it’s better to be prepared for such circumstances. You should make your error/404 page helpful for users instead of just leaving it blank. You can use this page to guide the users and direct them to the right page on your website.
This will help keep them on your website and also, maybe allow them to find what they have been in search of. You can also make the page a little entertaining by adding humor or illustrations. This will definitely gain you additional brownie points.
You can add a search bar or navigation bar to further help users have a good user experience and not get frustrated when they find your page unavailable.
Make user’s system status visible at all times
The system’s status helps users understand and keep them informed about the moment – what’s going on and where they are at the given point in time.
This helps communicate and allows them to learn about the consequences of their past interactions with the website and also, possibly help them determine the consequent steps of the same.
Let us take an example
Suppose you have an eCommerce store. Now, when a user hovers over a link, it might get underlined or a button might change color to show it’s clickable and to show users the button they will be pressing by when they hover over that particular area or box.
This enables users to learn about their interactions and actions, allowing them to make informed decisions.
Flexibility is one of the most important aspects to ensure a good user experience. It’s especially a UX principle to ensure effectiveness in an eCommerce website. This is because if you don’t give enough flexibility or freedom to your users, the chances of them abandoning the cart are pretty high.
For example, instead of forcing users to sign up/log in before they can add items to the cart, it’s best to allow them to add items for that particular session. You can always ask them to sign up when they are checking out.
Often users simply add items to the cart to save them for later reference. If you keep bugging them to first sign up, it can push them away from your website and result in an increased bounce rate.
You should also avoid pop-up forms when your users are browsing your website. The sole reason for them landing on your website could just be virtual window shopping. Let them enjoy their experience as is.
To wrap it up, we can say that user experience principles are needed to ensure 5 E’s of usability are being covered. These include effectiveness, efficiency, engagement, error tolerance, and ease of learning. All these principles help create a website that witnesses a decrease in bounce rate and more loyalty from users.