When it comes to a company’s online success, it almost goes without saying that user experience is key. It’s becoming apparent, however, that digital-design culture is oversaturated with all things UX. The term “UX” is approaching buzz-phrase status, and I’m not sure many of us even know what it really means. UX has been overcomplicated, and the line between UX and UI has been so blurred that it’s often hard to distinguish between the two.
We need to get back to the basics of UX. It’s a critical component of design that we must consider, but we need to lose the complicated jargon and refocus ourselves on its true purpose. Simply put, the purpose of user experience design is to create personal benefit for and bring delight to the customer.
Let’s talk about some basic UX principles that should always influence our thinking:
1. OFFER CONSISTENCY IN THE EXPERIENCE ACROSS ALL TYPES OF DEVICES.
This seems like a no-brainer, right? It’s shocking, though, how many companies devote time and money to developing their websites and then neglect to ensure that all users, regardless of internet browser, computer, laptop, tablet, phone, or even watch, are having a seamless and fully-functional online experience. Glitchy sites don’t inspire customer loyalty, so make it a priority to check your website’s functionality and overall appearance across the myriad of available devices before you release it officially to the public.
2. SITES SHOULD BE FORWARD-THINKING BUT NOT OVERLY DISTRACTING.
Don’t buy into the concept that great design has to be complicated to be edgy. Clean, simple lines make a classy statement and won’t distract from the site’s content, which should always be front and center. Double-check that your design, layout, and color scheme are working together to draw attention to content, and that your typography is easily readable and eye catching.
3. MAKE LOAD SPEED A PRIORITY.
Don’t err on the side of design when it means you’ll sacrifice efficient loading time. If your design is so complex and intricate that your pages are sluggish to load and your users are moving on to other sites out of frustration, you have to address the design decisions that got you to this point and make necessary changes in order to improve the loading process. People’s attention spans are generally pretty short, so your load time must be, also.
4. BUILD A WEBSITE THAT IS SCANNABLE.
Users generally don’t approach a website with the intent to read each word on every page. In fact, they don’t read much at all. Instead, they scan the page(s), taking in headers, images, and standout phrases. When you design a website with UX in mind, remember to keep your pages simple and scannable. Use few words and more impactful headers and visuals. Keep the color palette clean and simple. The more scannable a site is, the more likely users are to continue coming back for more.
5. MAKE SURE YOUR LINKS AND BUTTONS WORK THE WAY THEY SHOULD.
Again, it feels like this should go without saying, but alas. People, for the love of all things UX, please, PLEASE, check to make sure that the links and buttons on your website are functional and easy to find. Your users will form their opinions about your brand within their first few minutes on your site and we don’t want any technical glitches to dampen that sense of excitement.
6. BUILD NAVIGATION OPTIONS THAT ARE EASY TO SEE AND EASY TO USE.
The last thing users want to do is fumble their way through your website in search of hard-to-find content. In fact, if the process isn’t made clear and simple for them, chances are high that they’ll bail on your site in search of another. Navigating your site should be intuitive, and it should require as few clicks as possible for your user to find the information they need with ease.
7. LET THE USER CONTROL HIS/HER ONLINE EXPERIENCE.
Get rid of auto-playing videos and tricky scrolling systems. Eliminate auto-links that open pop-up windows without a user’s consent. Basically, any elements on a site that peeve users should be removed or redesigned, because the focus is always on creating an enjoyable experience for customers, building a loyal base of followers as a result. When users feel that they lack control over how they experience your site, they are almost always going to go elsewhere.
Friends, let’s get back to the good old days when UX strategy was intuitive and simple. Let’s use common sense in exchange for trendy lingo and rethink the way we’re approaching user experience design. Who’s with me?
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