10 Steps to a Great User Experience

If your current website isn’t engaging users from the get-go you might want to consider 10 things that will help create a simple interface that doesn’t distract visitors from their goals which are: finding something, making a purchase or an inquiry. How users engage or not with your website directly affects your bottom line one way or the other.

1. Start obsessing
Over your customers that is. Learn everything there is to know about them – their goals, behaviors, preferences, skills, wants and needs. Focus on your customers first and you’ll be able to create a website that lets them achieve their goals, which are, ultimately, your goals.

2. Flatter established brands
As the saying goes, imitation is the best form of flattery, so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. There are tons of great user interfaces that your customers are most likely using on a daily basis – Facebook, MSN, Blogspot, Microsoft, Bing and Adobe are some that come to mind. Why not play off these familiar interfaces that your user is already accustomed to? By using familiar layouts and functionality your customer won’t have to spend time figuring out how to wade through your site and will spend more time buying.

3. Consistency is not boring
It’s best to stay consistent in all aspects of your web design and navigation. Once your users become comfortable on your site and have a good understanding of how things work, they will increase their efficiency as a user and feel in control. This is will ultimately lead to a more enjoyable experience without frustrations. A frustrated user is a “bounce” – meaning gone.

4. Design strategically
Use a visual hierarchy that clearly articulates to the user what the most important aspects are. This is especially important in sites that have large amounts of information. If your site doesn’t have a clear starting point and a clear path your visitors will leave. Good design and strategic placement of elements work to create simplicity. Customers like simple not complex sites. Take a look at Google’s main search page. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

5. Plain and simple
Don’t add anything to your website design that is unnecessary – the best user interfaces (UI) are so streamlined that they are almost invisible. Before you add any design elements, ask why it is needed and what will it accomplish. If it doesn’t help the user do something or get somewhere on your site leave it off.

6. Feedback is important
Website visitors want to know where they are and what they’re doing. Your interface should include simple message boxes or visual cues that inform them of any action or result that has occurred – right or wrong. You need to let visitors know if their actions have led to the desired result Did they complete the purchase or not? Your interface should tell them.

7. To err is human, to forgive, divine
Every user is different – some extremely advanced and some virtually clueless. Although you may believe your website is as clear as day, your users will make mistakes and user error must always be accounted for. We’ve all filled out the wrong information on a form and when we mess up we want an easy way out. Make it easy for users to go back and fix things and undo actions. Make good use of your message boxes when an error has occurred.

8. Watch your language
Although we’re focusing on design, words can be an important part of interfaces as well. Text should be as simple and concise as possible with no question as to what something means or where something is leading the user. Don’t talk over their heads. A more conversational approach that the user relates to is more effective than pomposity and pontification.

9. Be easy to find
The best website in the world is useless if no one can find you. Pay attention to current Search Engine Optimization techniques and implement them.  If you’re not tweaking your SEO at least quarterly you’re probably falling behind and it won’t be long before your competition has a leg up on you.

10. Keep your eyes on the prize
The web is constantly changing, and it is important to keep moving forward right along with it. Mistakes will be made and lessons will be learned, but that is the best way to keep pushing the envelope with design. Embrace the fantastic forward progression of the world wide web.

Want to learn more about user interface design? Are you in need of a new or revamped website with your customers in mind? Call us today at 512.448.4494.