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The importance of user experience in web design

How Important is User Experience (UX) in Web Design?

Key takeaways

  • User experience is an essential part of designing websites because it prioritises the needs of the visitors – who are, of course, potential customers.
  • Bad UX design on websites can increase bounce rates and harm businesses’ reputations, often resulting in leads never returning.
  • Web design needs to put UX at the centre of its processes to ensure optimal functionality and, therefore, completed sales.

Did you know that 94% of a web­site’s first impres­sion is caused by its design? You might think, “well, I love my web­site’s design – it reflects my brand­ing.” But is your design func­tion­al? Is it help­ful and smooth? Is it enjoy­able to use?

Too many web­site own­ers opt for visu­al design­ers when cre­at­ing their web­sites. They choose their favourite colours or a cool min­i­mal theme. But how many of them hire a UX design­er or con­sid­er UX best practices?

UX isn’t a niche or option­al part of web design. We think it’s absolute­ly cru­cial to reach­ing your e‑commerce goals, cre­at­ing and retain­ing sat­is­fied cus­tomers, as well as pro­tect­ing your brand’s reputation.

Read on to learn more about UX and why it’s so cru­cial for your com­pa­ny website:

What is user experience design (UX)?

User expe­ri­ence, or UX, is the process of design­ing web­sites and oth­er inter­faces in a way that pri­ori­tis­es human per­cep­tions, behav­iours, and preferences.

UX design antic­i­pates the needs of users and strives to make their expe­ri­ences seam­less, mean­ing­ful, and use­ful. UX design bal­ances the require­ment for aes­thet­ic design and brand­ing with the fun­da­men­tal need for func­tion and usabil­i­ty. Fur­ther­more, UX design­ers will aim to make their prod­ucts fun and plea­sur­able to inter­act with.

UX design dif­fers from oth­er types of design whereby:

  • UI design is a sub­cat­e­go­ry of UX, con­cerned specif­i­cal­ly with micro user expe­ri­ences with things such as but­tons, icons, and toggles.
  • Visu­al design focus­es on the aes­thet­ics of web­sites, pri­mar­i­ly its colours, fonts, images, and oth­er elements.

Though UX design­ers can’t con­trol exact­ly how users per­ceive or inter­act with their prod­ucts, they can influ­ence them. For instance, they can’t con­trol how a user moves their mouse around a web­page, but they can use UX best prac­tices to encour­age users to move their cur­sors to click on cer­tain things.

“One can­not design a user expe­ri­ence, only design for a user expe­ri­ence.” Jeff Johnson

What is user experience in web design?

While UX design­ers can choose to work on a range of prod­ucts, apps, soft­ware, and ser­vices, they are key to the cre­ation and redesign­ing of web­sites. UX is fun­da­men­tal to web design because it can help influ­ence e‑commerce KPIs such as con­ver­sion rate, bounce rate, and click­through rate.

Good web design can be com­pelling and styl­ish, con­vey brand val­ues, and estab­lish a busi­ness as rep­utable. How­ev­er, if the design suf­fers func­tion­al­ly or isn’t cre­at­ed with users in mind, it can be extreme­ly dam­ag­ing. Thus, it’s cru­cial web­site own­ers seek the help of UX design­ers to max­imise their success.

User expe­ri­ence in web design means con­sid­er­ing the habits, needs, and behav­iours of web­site users. The tasks of UX design­ers are like­ly infi­nite, but here are some things they might change on your website:

  • Eval­u­ate how easy or com­pli­cat­ed it is for users to fol­low a cer­tain site path.
  • Clar­i­fy the pur­pose of web pages to make them as straight­for­ward as possible.
  • Opti­mise web pages for mobile and desktop.
  • Reduce the num­ber of dis­trac­tions on web pages.
  • Add moments of delight, plea­sure, and fun where applicable.
  • Ensure there are oppor­tu­ni­ties for users to report feedback.
  • Mod­er­ate the use of colour on web pages for desired effects.

Always do your research

Although “design” is in the name, UX design­ers spend a lot more time on oth­er tasks than those list­ed above. A big part of UX design is con­duct­ing research, car­ry­ing out tests, and cre­at­ing buyer/user personas.

Though intu­ition plays a big role in web design, it’s cru­cial to do your research and make UX deci­sions based on data. For instance, you might real­ly love the colour yel­low – but you might not realise that, accord­ing to the data, it’s the worst web­site colour.

Mak­ing deci­sions based on per­son­al pref­er­ence might seem like the right thing to do when you own a web­site, but ulti­mate­ly, it’s the con­sumers’ opin­ions that will affect your conversions.

How do UX designers work?

You can expect a UX design­er to take the fol­low­ing steps while work­ing on your project:

  1. They’ll start by con­duct­ing research on your prod­uct, com­peti­tors, user per­sonas, and cus­tomer jour­ney maps (CJMs). They’ll brain­storm with stake­hold­ers and con­sid­er val­ue propositions.
  2. UX design­ers will devel­op their cre­ations by mak­ing use of sketch­es, sto­ry­boards, user flow dia­grams, use cas­es, and a Heuris­tic review.
  3. Your UX design­er will build sitemaps, wire­frames, and pro­to­types to bring their vision to life and pro­vide a sneak peek into how their design will look and feel.
  4. Any feed­back you have for the design­er’s pro­to­types can be inte­grat­ed at this stage, but the design­er must also val­i­date their work through test­ing and sur­veys before it can be signed off.

Why should website owners care about UX?

Imag­ine this:

You’ve vis­it­ed an online shop and found their page for jeans, but there are over 250 pairs to choose from. You only want a blue pair of boot­cut jeans, but there isn’t any way to fil­ter the results by colour or style.

You pow­er on any­way and final­ly find a pair you like after 15 min­utes of frus­trat­ed scrolling. You add them to your bas­ket and go to the checkout.

But before you can com­plete your order, you need to cre­ate an account, and there’s no option to check­out as a guest. You realise that to cre­ate an account; you’ll need to fill out a lengthy form and con­firm your email address.

You give up because it should be eas­i­er to pur­chase a pair of jeans online.

This sur­pris­ing­ly com­mon prob­lem is why all web­site own­ers should care about UX

“E‑commerce sites lose almost half of their poten­tial sales because users can­not use the site. In oth­er words, with bet­ter usabil­i­ty, the aver­age site could increase its cur­rent sales by 79%”Jakob Nielsen

The data does­n’t lie – bad UX can seri­ous­ly pre­vent web­sites from reach­ing their full poten­tial. But why does this happen?

Bounce rates

Poor UX design can frus­trate web­site users and make them exit pages quick­er. Con­se­quent­ly, busi­ness­es see high­er bounce rates and more aban­doned carts due to dif­fi­cult nav­i­ga­tion. In fact, peo­ple are five times more like­ly to aban­don their task if the web­site they’re using has­n’t been opti­mised for mobile phones.

Invest­ing in UX design can do won­ders for reduc­ing your bounce rate and, unsur­pris­ing­ly, result in greater returns.

Return on investment

But how much rev­enue are you like­ly to see as a result of bet­ter UX? Well, research shows that for every dol­lar spent on UX, a busi­ness will earn back between $10 and $100!

This ROI can be attrib­uted to not only smoother cus­tomer expe­ri­ences but also eas­i­er com­ple­tion of sales, and greater sat­is­fac­tion among cus­tomers encour­ag­ing them to return.

Brand reputation

Though the rep­u­ta­tion of brands is often dis­cussed in rela­tion to their val­ues, ethics, and design choic­es, a busi­ness’s web­site func­tion can have a huge impact on its rep­u­ta­tion as well.

Users might even feel like brands don’t care about them if their web­sites are too dif­fi­cult to nav­i­gate. For instance, Zara has received a lot of back­lash for its frus­trat­ing design choic­es, mak­ing it a pop­u­lar case study in UX train­ing for “what not to do”.

Loss of leads

The risk of poor UX design does­n’t just involve frus­trat­ed cus­tomers, high bounce rates, and dam­aged rep­u­ta­tions – though these prob­lems are sure­ly seri­ous enough.

Data sug­gests that bad UX expe­ri­ences result in indi­vid­u­als nev­er return­ing to the site in ques­tion: “88% of con­sumers are less like­ly to return to a site with bad UX.”

Evi­dent­ly, it’s a huge risk to run ‘busi­ness as usu­al’ when your web­site’s UX is out­dat­ed. Any lead you gen­er­ate through organ­ic search, paid adver­tis­ing, or word of mouth runs the risk of bounc­ing off your site and nev­er return­ing. All that lead gen­er­a­tion for nothing.

If you don’t want to alien­ate new leads, it’s cru­cial to wel­come them to your web­site the right way.

SEO

We know that slow load­ing can cause increased bounce rates, which, in turn, can cause a drop in SEO scores. But did you know that bad UX can have the same effect?

If high num­bers of users are quick­ly leav­ing your web­site out of frus­tra­tion or con­fu­sion, it’ll become evi­dent to search engines that your site isn’t wor­thy of being at the top of the SERPs.

If you’re keen to boost your SEO rank­ings, high-qual­i­ty UX design is some­thing you’ll absolute­ly have to invest in.

Examples of user-friendly web design

Airbnb and ASOS have extreme­ly effec­tive and well-designed web­sites. Below, we go over a cou­ple of their features:

Airbnb

The vaca­tion rental com­pa­ny Airbnb offer a clear CTA to their web­site vis­i­tors. When you land on their hero page, a form appears ask­ing for your pre­ferred dates and loca­tion for what­ev­er trip you have in mind. The for­m’s design isn’t clunky or com­pli­cat­ed – it’s smooth and accessible.

In this instance, Airbnb has achieved a key goal of UX design: help­ing users do exact­ly what they came to do.

ASOS

The cloth­ing retail­er, which oper­ates exclu­sive­ly online, has used the fol­low­ing design fea­ture to make up for the fact that cus­tomers can’t see items ‘in real life’ before they buy:

ASOS uses a video fea­ture so that site vis­i­tors can view prod­ucts in motion and as close to ‘real life’ as possible.

The site also achieves sim­plic­i­ty and help­ful­ness by putting use­ful infor­ma­tion in col­lapsi­ble tabs. This pre­vents user over­whelm and dis­trac­tion with­out remov­ing essen­tial infor­ma­tion from the web page.

What to avoid when designing a user-friendly website

Below, we’ve com­piled a list of absolute don’ts when design­ing a user-friend­ly website:

  • Don’t place more impor­tance on aes­thet­ics than on usabil­i­ty. When web design projects go too far ‘out­side the box,’ they can become redun­dant. Make sure you don’t for­get the func­tion­al­i­ty aspect of UX in favour of extreme cre­ativ­i­ty and unique­ness. Though it’s bril­liant for brands to have indi­vid­ual styles, it’s best if your web­site is designed in a super acces­si­ble way.
  • Don’t add too many graph­ics, pop-ups, and oth­er con­tent. If you have too many dis­trac­tions on your web pages, users can become over­whelmed and, there­fore, con­fused about nav­i­ga­tion. As a result, few­er vis­i­tors will com­plete sales, and you run the risk of a high­er bounce rate.
  • Don’t hide impor­tant or help­ful infor­ma­tion. You might favour a min­i­mal­ist style, but this can eas­i­ly go too far. There are essen­tial fea­tures that vis­i­tors will expect to see when vis­it­ing online retail­ers – for instance, a clear­ly labelled ‘Menu’ or ‘Con­tact us’ but­ton. If your site is so min­i­mal­ist that users can’t find help­ful infor­ma­tion, your design has gone wrong.

Final thoughts

Even if you feel like an ana­logue per­son in a dig­i­tal world, you can still improve your web­site’s UX.

In fact, techno­pho­bic indi­vid­u­als might be the best peo­ple to iden­ti­fy unhelp­ful aspects of a web­site’s nav­i­ga­tion. If you’re not so tech­no­log­i­cal­ly mind­ed, you can be high­ly valu­able to the UX process by point­ing out the parts of your web­site that con­fuse or aggra­vate you.

Cater­ing to techno­phobes is a com­mon tech­nique in UX – espe­cial­ly if the prod­uct or web­site being built isn’t meant for a high­ly tech­ni­cal­ly skilled group. Ulti­mate­ly, acces­si­bil­i­ty and ease of use are at the heart of UX, mak­ing techno­pho­bic insights one of their most valu­able resources.

If you’re just com­ing to terms with the fact that your web­site needs UX, and you think you need some help, reach out to us at pur­ple­plan­et. We offer a range of dig­i­tal ser­vices, includ­ing web design.

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      To order the service package you’ve chosen, please fill in the form and we’ll get in touch with you soon.