Think about the last time you navigated a website. Now think about how easy the process was. Did you find what you were looking for? Was the experience entertaining, productive, or satisfying? What you’re thinking about is the user experience (UX) — and UX design is all about making that experience a positive one.
UX design aims to fulfill the needs of the user. By doing this, you can ensure your customers keep returning. If you’re a beginner to UX, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Here are 10 important UX design principles for beginners.
Meet the Users’ Needs
According to Financesonline, more than two-thirds of internet users leave a website within seconds due to poor design. With so many options available to them, they don’t want to waste time on an experience that’s complex and cumbersome.
So forget about what you think the website should look and feel like; what’s important is how the users feel when using it.
What do users want from a website? They want a clear navigation process. They want enough white space to ensure reading the page isn’t a chore. Most of all, internet users want to find what they’re looking for in seconds.
Think about how a user who has never seen your website before would feel when they first arrive on your landing page. Everything else starts from this crucial point of view.
Know Where You Are in the Design Process
If you’re new to the world of UX design, the process can feel overwhelming at times. It’s easy to become distracted and lose focus. And it’s just as easy to race ahead with over-confidence.
Take on one aspect of design at a time. This way, you’ll know which questions to ask when you’re researching what users need. And you can identify and source the tools you require to complete the element you’re working on.
Imagine you’re trying to decide which color makes a button stand out on the web page. You can’t know this until you’ve decided where you’re going to locate the button. A great UX designer never puts the cart before the horse. Don’t try to solve everything at once. Work systematically and logically through the design process.
Have a Clear Hierarchy
All good websites utilize a clear, logical hierarchy to maximize user experience. Think about how the information on your website is presented and organized. And think about these issues from the perspective of your users.
For example, imagine someone is looking for brown leather shoes on a fashion website. They’d probably start by looking for the general shoe category. Then they might try to filter their search by material. Finally, they’d filter the search again to display only brown shoes.
Once the user has selected the shoes, the “buy” button should be in a logical position. And the payment process should be seamless. When UX is executed in the right way, this type of customer journey is seamless.
It’s also important to think about the browsing user. The customer who bought the brown leather shoes might not have known what kind of shoes they wanted when they arrived at your website. The use of logically created dropdown menus in the right place can turn browsers into buyers.
Visual hierarchy is often best delivered with the use of contrast, scale, color, and font. Think about how the customer gradually gets closer to where they need to be. The shoe category in a menu might be dark blue. As the user moves down the sub-categories, giving each one its own, lighter shade of blue lets the customer know they’re on the right track.
Don’t make your customers re-learn how to use your website every time they visit.
Imagine you’re designing a fashion e-commerce website. If the user experience on a businesswear page is different from the experience on the dresses page, you’re making life unnecessarily difficult for your users.
A website that offers users a consistent experience on every page promotes familiarity. Users can navigate faster and without too much thinking. This gives them more time with your products and services — and less time looking for them.
Consistency in your approach to UX design also makes your job a lot easier. If you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you design a new page or section for your website, you can save both time and resources.
It’s important to understand the issues people with disabilities face when they’re using your website. Disabilities such as hearing and visual impairments can make life very difficult for some people — particularly when they’re using mobile devices.
Think about the broadest possible range of users when you’re designing your UX. Wherever possible, move obstacles that might cause confusion or hesitancy. Think about the way colors contrast with one another. And choose a simple font that doesn’t leave certain letters difficult to decipher.
This is where research and testing come into their own. If you don’t have accessibility issues, you can never be sure if your website’s UX design is effective.
Context Is Key
Before you can get UX right, you need to know who you’re designing for. Who is going to be using your website regularly? Only then can you meet their needs as an internet user.
For example, are you designing for people who access their content on mobile devices? Do most of your web visitors access your site while they’re on the go? Are your users predominantly male? Maybe they’re high-earners, students, or college professors.
Once you know who your target user is, you can start to create a website that works for them. Knowing how, when, and why people access websites should play a crucial role in your UX design process.
It’s also important to think about the emotional state of your users. Do they tend to be in a hurry? Or are they prepared to stick around for a while to read or browse? Once you have answers to these questions, you can make appropriate design choices.
Your ultimate goal as a UX designer is to solve problems for your users. They usually arrive at your website in search of a solution, so giving them one as quickly as possible is the key to maximizing conversion rates.
Your website might look fantastic and feature a ton of cool features. But if users can’t navigate with ease everything else is window dressing.
Put yourself in the shoes of a new user. Can you say that your website is easy to navigate, clear, and concise? If it’s cluttered, confused, and doesn’t follow hierarchical principles, you’re likely to lose visitors within seconds of them arriving.
In many cases, minimalism is usability. Don’t confuse users by stuffing your web pages with unnecessary features and information. You might feel like you’re impressing potential customers, but your efforts might have the opposite effect. If it’s not necessary, get rid of it.
Less is More
The “less is more” approach to UX design links directly to usability. A great website minimizes the operational and cognitive costs to the user. People don’t want to solve puzzles and waste time when they access a website — they want to find the value they’re looking for without fuss or delay.
Apple mastered the “less is more” approach to usability across both its hardware and software ranges. Real estate on a web page is a precious commodity, so don’t waste it on superfluous information, images, and features. Give users only what they need to complete their transaction — and nothing more.
UX-focused copywriting is every bit as important as UX design. Once you’ve piqued the interest of a user, it’s the content that draws them in. The use of well-crafted, simple language is the key to turning browsers into buyers.
Wherever possible, avoid the use of jargon and technical language. To maximize readability and impress search engine algorithms, make sure all your content is grammatically correct. Offer insights and value to the reader, and include links to sources.
When it comes to UX copywriting, white space is a powerful tool. Remember: Most internet users don’t want to trawl through paragraphs of text to find what they’re looking for. Make your content skimmable with lots of subheadings, short paragraphs, and lists.
Think about who you’re talking to. Writing for affluent business people is very different from writing for, say, teenage gamers. Choose your tone, point of view, sentence structure, and vocabulary according to your target reader.
Once your content resonates with the target reader, you can start to think about typography. How your content looks on the page can influence how the reader interprets what you’re saying. In fact, the typography you choose can influence what consumers think about your entire brand.
Does the font you’re using for content complement the font used in your branding? The size, color, and boldness of your typography should be appropriate for your industry and the audience you’re targeting. And it should deliver the same experience across all devices. Whoever you’re talking to, choose standard fonts — and keep them to a minimum.
We know we’ve given you a lot to think about. Effective UX design is a science that requires know-how, experience, and lots of time.