What is User Experience Design?

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User Experience Design (or UX Design) is something that is more frequently heard of when talking about website design however it's still hard to explain in a few sentences. Quite often when asked what I do for a living I still end up having to explain... "I make people have nice experiences on websites," which is always sure to raise a few eyebrows! 

 

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The truth is that User Experience Design is all about balancing;

what the customer wants to find      vs      what the business wants to show 

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Aren't they the same thing?

Not usually! When I first began to design websites we were always designing for a business and so we put every bit of content that the business asked for into the site to make our clients happy. This content was usually the history of the company plus the values and mission statements of the businesses and lots of sliding banners to provide multiple messages.

After years of being able to see google analytics data we can see that customers weren't interested in looking for that information, and instead they were skipping it and heading straight to the pages that they were interested in (usually services or product type pages). 

The problem with customers skipping this information is that we know as marketers that this is where they are able see your point of difference, so we needed to find a new approach. 

 

Principles of UX Design

 

The principles of user experience design are simple. Consider your audiences, work out what they want, make the website as simple as possible for them to use and then skilfully and subtly insert the things you want them to know into that journey in a non-obtrusive way. 

This way they get exactly what they want without realising they absorbed all of the things that you wanted to show them.

 

STEP 01 // 

Put yourself in their shoeS

Customers are individual people who want to be spoken to like a human, not like a computer. Most businesses can tell you that they have specific groups of customers that need to be dealt with in a specific way; some customers need no help and know exactly what they want, whereas some want their hand holding. 

We do this in a variety of ways:

  • Create a list of personas (find out more about personas)
  • Categorise the types of people who use your website
  • List their common characteristics and personality types
  • List their content wants and needs from the website
  • Think about their emotions when using the website
  • Consider wording that will attract those audiences
 

STEP 02 // 

INSTEAD OF WEB PAGES, CREATE WEB JOURNEYS

The structure of a website is referred to as the Information Architecture. Using a variety of tools and techniques we can work out which order your customers will want to learn about a service and make sure that the website is easy to use for new and existing users. 

We do this in a variety of ways:

  • Create a step-by-step journey of how your customer should learn about your services 
  • Make sure they move through the website in that order
  • Provide snippets of information to entice people into the next section that they're looking for 
  • Provide more detailed information for customers who have shown an interest at appropriate points
  • Hide generic promotions until the customer has seen what they're looking for
 
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STEP 03 // 

SNEAK IN YOUR IMPORTANT CONTENT

Once you've worked out what people are going to be looking for you can trace the route that they'll head through your website. That means that you can start to insert your mission statements, cross promotions and important content in a way that will be more easily digested by the audience

We do this in a variety of ways:

  • Create wireframes before designing a page so that you can map out the hierarchy of content
  • Highlight end points of the user journey and provide cross links to more information
  • Insert individual testimonials at appropriate points
  • Add quotes and highlighted text throughout the content to pull focus momentarily
  • Add imagery throughout the content at appropriate points instead of hiding them on gallery pages
 

STEP 04 // 

TWEAK THE BASICS

Design is a powerful tool for your website can make something complicated look simple, or a completely new function seem intuitive. The more simple a website appears, the more likely people are to attempt to use it. 

We do this in a variety of ways:

  • Make sure menus are simple to use, and easy place to press on mobile
  • Make sure text is converted to diagrams where possible to explain concepts
  • Make sure actions are easy to spot, e.g call us or email us
  • Add visual feedback, e.g what's being pressed, what's loading, how long will the loading take etc
  • Reduce content overkill by splitting content into digestible subheadings and bullets
 

STEP 05 //

TEST AND REPEAT

The way that people use the web is always evolving so you can always benefit from watching your analytics, listening to customer feedback (on and offline) and adding new features when they become available instead of waiting to make one huge update. 

We do this in a variety of ways:

  • Review analytics frequently to see which pages are being missed out of the user journey, or which ones are getting the most interest 
  • Add new features slowly so that you can test results one at a time
  • As new functionality and apps outside of your business are developed, feature them on your website
  • Conduct formal user testing with professional software