Web Design 101: Purpose

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Why is the design of your website important? You may think that just having a website with relevant, updated information is enough. But if you intend for the website to have a purpose beyond just giving your company name, slogan, and phone number, you may want to consider the importance of how the information is presented to the user. Last week we discussed standing out online, but the next step on the road to online success is the vital first impression someone gets from viewing your website, and the subsequent experience they have while visiting your site. Unless a site is purposefully designed, attractive, and easy to use it will turn away potential customers. UX design is the solution.

What is it?

UX stands for “user experience.” It means that the site focuses on the user’s experience as the primary concern. UX designers take time to understand the target audience of your website, the primary goals the website is trying to accomplish, the overall marketing strategy of the company, and other factors which they use to then design a visually engaging website that accomplishes it’s purpose and gives users a great experience. UX design also takes into account that users experience websites differently when viewing from different devices, and so must account for this in the design. Remember, you only have fractions of a second to capture and keep a viewer’s attention; a site that hard to navigate, difficult to understand, or slow to load is off-putting.

Take a look at the UX process in action:

Who Needs it?

UX Design is important for everyone, but even more so for companies who use the website as a tool to educate potential customers, explain complex ideas, and drive sales. Companies who need simple validation websites still need to give users a great experience across all devices, but websites striving to accomplish the goals listed above need to take every step necessary to ensure that their users have a great experience everywhere on the website and from any device (see more on responsive web design here).

How Does It Work?

Here are a few basic UX principles for success:

  1. Know why the prospect is on your site.
    Ask yourself this question first. Do they come to learn more about your product? To find a physical store location? To place an order? Make it as easy as possible for them to
    do what they want to do.
  2. Interrupt their experience as little as possible.
    Sometimes you may want to slow users down so you can learn more about them or prompt them to complete a specific behavior. But, gated forms that stand between your
    prospect and promised content must be quick and easy to fill out, or the user will leave. Pop-ups urging them to like your Facebook page should be infrequent.
  3. Make sure every area of the site is quick.
    Images should load quickly, if there are too many images on a page try lazy loading or other strategies. Avoid technologies like Flash that don’t work on mobile phones.
  4. Test your site in order to address UX problems promptly and effectively.
    Regular testing ensures that your site is enjoyable and efficient for users. Give users the site they want and you will transform prospective visitors into loyal customers. Don’t forget to test the site across different size screens and devices –

Advice For Business Owners

Web designers are not all created equal and a web designer is not the same as a UX web designer. Be sure to ask about a designers UX experience when determining who to work with on your next web project.
The more important the website can be to the success of your business, the more competitive your industry is, and the more time you wish for your users to spend on your site, the more important it is to find a UX design company to help ensure that your website accomplishes it’s purpose – the success of your business!