Quick tips: Designing for user experience (UX)

Ryan Boudreaux provides some guidelines for designing websites with the optimum user experience in mind.

User experience (UX) design means doing great work putting your visitors first, by creating usable, meaningful, enjoyable and useful products and experiences so that your customers will want to revisit the website again and again. In many instances getting management and web teams to align with UX design can be an up-hill battle, especially if the corporate focus is not on the customer, but the company itself. It is the customers who pay for your products, so shouldn't the products and web experiences be built around their needs and desires?

#1 Be helpful

The website design should directly reflect the needs, purpose, and requirements of the end user -- your customers and your visitors; don't build a website for yourself -- leave that for Intranet implementations. Your public-facing website needs to be designed for your customers, and the design should help them to accomplish their tasks with every visit. The end user has specific needs and are not wowed by websites that include needless features taking up precious space and unnecessary clicks and page views. Make sure your website is relevant and useful to the customers; make sure that it matches the user personas that you develop from your research. If it does, your visitors will understand how the website is supposed to work and it will speak their language. It should offer a matching level of user control.

#2 Review, evaluate, and develop

As you start the appraisal and review process, it is a good idea to include an evaluation of the statistics with emphasis on how your customers are navigating through your website currently, as this becomes the road map for continuing to improve a good website. Notice how your visitors interact with your website. Conducting reviews and evaluations of visitor interactions on a regular basis will let you know if the site is showing signs of progress toward user friendly experiences.

#3 Emphasize accessibility

When visitors have to make great efforts at gaining access to web content they get upset, angry, and will leave the offending website without ever giving a reason or a second thought. And this goes beyond issues of text legibility  for the visually impaired, excessive use of animations, or whether screen readers provide clarity of content. Simple things like unnecessary interactions or added obstructions such as poor navigation and linking are reason enough for visitors to end the browsing session and move on to other options. Don't give them a reason to leave; make the website accessible for all customers.

#4 Be trustworthy

Having a good understanding of how your customers perceive and respond to your website, your product, and your brand can be the difference between maintaining their trust and losing them to your competitors. Does your site stay updated on a regular basis, and is the content and website accurate and relevant? Do customers who frequent the website report a large number of glitches or bugs when they click through web pages? When you promise one thing, do you end up offering another? Building confidence means meeting the expectations of the customer with every web site visit and every interaction.

There are many more sub-topics in the UX design subject including visitor perceptions, interaction-based design elements, logical structures, predictability, efficiency, and the forgiving characteristics that mark successfully implemented websites. Do you have any examples of UX design that you or your organization have successfully implemented?