We do a lot of web design, and are very focused on user experience. In the geek world, that’s called “UX.” And one thing we’re continually surprised about is how often scant attention is paid to creating an experience for the user – especially when it comes to website design.
User experience is really quite simple: it’s defined as how a person feels when interfacing with a system. That could be many things, including face-to-face interaction, an instruction manual, a website, or a product – like software. And people who focus on UX, think about making the process of user interaction easy, effective and valuable.
When it comes to your website, user experience design is comprised of many components, and one of the most fundamental is: What do you want to people to do once they get to your website?
We believe that time is of the essence. And are fond of saying, pretty much ad nauseum, that you have about 97 seconds to capture someone’s attention once they make it to your website. Ergo, it goes without saying that if you don’t communicate what you need to “sell” them – and/or serve up what they’re looking for in that time frame, well, you might just be out of luck.
It’s not unusual for people’s eyes glaze over when the conversation turns to user experience, because it seems kind of techie and boring. Not so, proclaim the nerds in us!! Your business website should be the hub of all your business operations, and once a prospect reaches your website, for best results, all your attention should be on either attracting leads or on the process of converting leads to sales. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?
Sometimes it’s easier to think about real life examples of user experience gone awry, which then makes the leap to thinking about website design UX all that much easier. Here’s a great example from something that was in the news recently that might help.
Up The Glass Staircase – In a Skirt? Oopsie!
In Ohio, a classic example of design gone awry is playing itself out in the media. The $105 million Franklin County Courthouse opened a few weeks ago, and the new building is not getting the kind of attention they might’ve planned.
A staircase with glass risers provides a view of ladies in skirts and dresses that is, well, undesirable at best. It’s such a problem that the courthouse has posted security guards at the stairwell, warning women in dresses and skirts about the dangers of using the stairs before they start the climb.
Mistakes happen. How many times have you done something or experienced something and, perplexed, said aloud, “What in the world were they thinking?” Well, that’s what you want to make sure doesn’t happen with your website.
Want to create a good user experience on your corporate website? Here are just a few tips to get you started:
Don’t Design for Design’s Sake.
Sounds ridiculously simple, but one of the most common website design mistakes is designing something that looks “cool” but that is amazingly frustrating for the user. If done correctly, your website can be cool – and serve up a great user experience.
Focus on the Font.
Make the font big enough. This is one of our most common observations – and you need to consider your audience when designing your site. If the font is so small that a user has to manually bump it up, it’s annoying. And easy to avoid.
Ditch the Autoplay.
Do not, under any circumstances, blast your visitors with video that begins playing the minute they arrive at your site. It is, universally annoying. If it doesn’t annoy you, you’re the exception, and not the rule.
Nix the Tuneage.
See above rule – the same thing applies to music. Music used to be cool when it came to web design. That was in 2001. It is no longer cool for someone to arrive at your site and be bombarded with music that they can’t turn off.
What’s In It For Me?
Tell your brand story in a way that your target audience understands. And that means immediately answering that question: “What’s in it for ME?” You need to tell them why you’re the solution to whatever it is that ails them, just the thing they’ve been looking for and/or the discovery that they can’t wait to tell all their friends about. If you’re not sure what kind of job your website copy does for you, have your mom read the copy on your site. If she doesn’t understand it, there’s a good chance you need to revisit the content. Web copy written by engineers or by developers or by people too close to what you’re doing to be objective – well, it usually stinks.
There’s more. Of course there’s more! But you’ll have to wait for another post for that. What are your most common pet peeves about website design and user experience mistakes? We’d love to know.
Image credit: Jezebel.com