A UX design guide is a valuable tool for creating the most amazing experience for your site visitors imaginable. User experience (UX) is just what it sounds like — the way your design comes together and creates what the user experiences on your website. However, UX covers far more than a few elements. It takes into account every aspect of your site, from speed to content to navigation and more.
Recent studies show good UX design increases conversion rates as much as 400 percent. The experience of those who visit your site is about more than just making a good impression. This also impacts the profitability of your company. You must understand the ways customers interact with your site and what they want out of it.
A strong user-centered experience flows naturally from one element to the next. It happens in a way that requires little thought from site visitors. Good UX never gives the user a moment to think they might want to leave your site or check out a competitor.
History of UX Design
User experience has been around as long as people have owned businesses. As well as worried about how to gain and keep customers. However, the actual term “user experience” was put together in 1993 when Don Normal talked about it at Apple Computer.
Experts point out that user-centered design has been around longer than the internet. Bell Labs hired a psychologist to design telephone systems in 1945 and came up with a touchtone keypad. We still use a touch keypad design today, even on smartphones, so getting the UX of the design perfect has had an impact for 74 years and counting.
By 2050, the number of people working in the UX field will grow 100 percent. This UX design guide explores elements such as the importance of understanding UX in design work and the different components making up a robust user-centered design.
UX Versus UI
People sometimes grow confused over the difference between UX and UI. The two work closely together in creating the UX of your site. Designers often find they’re expected to understand both UX and UI fully. However, UX is not the same as UI.
- UI, user interface, is the overall function of a website. If a user engages with your site, they do so via some type of device, such as a touch screen. The UI is the way the user interacts with your site and how seamless that interaction is.
- UX, user experience, is a way of designing that focuses on the needs of the user. UX is relatively complex, but in a nutshell, focuses on everything from the contrast between colors to where items are located to ensuring interactive elements are clickable.
We may use both the terms UX and UI throughout this guide, but the focus is as a UX design guide. You could say UX is simply refining UI and making the site as usable as possible. UX in design work drives consumers toward engaging with your brand.
Eight Basic Elements of Good UX
Good UX may vary in the look of a website or even the features offered, but eight basic elements make a site stand out as more usable than others.
- Good hierarchy: Your site’s architecture needs to make sense. Think about what your main categories are and what goes under them in a logical procession.
- Beautiful design: The aesthetics of your site should make an excellent first impression on visitors. The colors should complement one another, be easy to read and provide the right level of contrast.
- Clear CTAs: Clear calls to action guide site visitors through a sales funnel. CTAs should be easy to locate and actionable.
- Site consistency: Your website should be predictable throughout. If you place your navigation bar just under the header on your home page, put it in the same spot on every page on your site. If your logo is clickable on one page, make it clickable on the others. Keep things consistent, so users know what to expect.
- Minimal clutter: Keep your page minimal and uncluttered, so users quickly and easily find the elements they need. Your landing page doesn’t need to be everything to everyone.
- Clear purpose: Your site needs a clear focus and outline of your unique selling proposition (USP). Don’t make visitors guess what the purpose of your page is.
- Breakdown of complex data: One of the goals of good UX is taking complex ideas and breaking them down into terms and examples users easily understand. Good UX looks at content, graphics and data visualizations and ties it all up in a neat bow that tells a story.
- Accessibility: UX designers consider who the target audience is and what devices they might access the site through. Accessibility includes offering the capability for voice search and usage on mobile devices.
UX designers consider dozens of different elements when working on a website. The eight listed above are some of the more popular, but the list is expansive enough to include many others.
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UX Design Guide Series Focus
The user’s experience comes from many different elements. Think about the last time you visited the website of a large corporation. Factors such as the color choices, where the navigation bar sat and how the content all came into play as you moved through the site affected your experience.
UX starts with first impressions before your brain even has time to process the content on the page.
If you visit Walmart’s website, you’ll note it loads at lightning speed. As a user, you may not even realize this is part of your experience. Not to mention how it impacts the way you see the brand. Other elements your mind registers in a split second include where navigation is — hamburger menu in the upper left — and big images of modern designs for your home. Your first impression is formed of a professional, easy-to-navigate site, and you then dig further.
While the speed of loading is only one element of UX design, it illustrates why every piece of the puzzle matters. If a website fails to load quickly, the user may bounce away. At any point in the design process, a user may feel disengaged and leave your site.
The UX Design Guide:
In this UX design guide, each chapter covers a different aspect of enhancing the UX of your website and improving your knowledge for better customer retention and conversion.
We’ll dig deeper into what UX and UI design are, the UX process, laws about UX, basic user-based design principles, and testing and refining your website for the highest conversions and engagement possible.
Chapter 9: The Best UX Tools and Techniques [coming soon!]