One of the most important aspects of web design is user experience. You may have designed a colorful website that does a lot of flashy things, but if the site is hard to use, you’re going to have a hard time convincing people to stay on the page. In fact, user experience should take precedence over anything else. Here are a few ways that you can do this, and ultimately end up with an easy to use, yet great looking, web design for your site.
Decide What’s Most Important on the Page
Before you start making changes to your website, you should first take some time to plan things out. One thing you’ll want to specifically think about is what’s the most important part of your page? Is it information about your product? Links to your services? A form that people can use to contact you? You’ll likely have different answers depending on which page you’re thinking about.
When designing your website, it’s important to keep whatever that most important element is in mind. You want this item to be easy to find, easy to use, and easy to read. If someone visits the homepage of your website, you don’t want them to have a hard time finding the information they need about the products you offer.
When someone enters your site, no matter which page they land on, they should be able to easily find the information or tool they came looking for. This will keep them from leaving the site, and hopefully increase your conversion rates.
Keep the Color Scheme Simple
Next, you’ll want to think about the color scheme. A common mistake that many make is using too many colors. When you’re designing your site, try to limit the number of colors that you use. If you use too many colors, the site becomes distracting, and the focus on your content is lost. Now, instead of reading about your product, a customer is having their eyes drawn to all of the different colors throughout the page.
To start, try out 3 primary colors that you want to use in the site. If you need to use more than that, use tints or shades of one of those colors. This should give you plenty of options for designing a website that is colorful without being distracting.
Have a Clear Content Structure
Designing a website is about more than how it looks. You also need to design how the website functions. Navigation is a key element for great web design, so it’s important that you think about the structure of your content.
Think of it like a pyramid. At the top you have broad categories, below that subcategories, and below that is the information. Let’s say you run a blog about web design. At the top of the pyramid would be categories like “Fonts” or “Mobile Design”. Below “Fonts” you may then have subcategories like “Choosing Fonts” or “Finding Free Fonts”. Within these subcategories you have all of the articles you’ve written related to that category.
Now when someone comes to your site, they are able to quickly browse through your menu and find the information that they need. If you were to just lump all of your posts under an umbrella head of “Web Design”, it would be hard to navigate through your site. So think about the structure your content should take, then make sure your website has an easy way for visitors to work their way through it.
Develop for Multiple Devices
Nowadays, if you’re developing your site without considering how it appears on multiple devices, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Mobile devices like tablets and smartphones now make up a large percentage of how we view the Internet. You don’t want to design your site only to realize that it is hard to use on a smaller smartphone screen.
To develop for multiple devices at the same time, you’ll want to employ Responsive Design techniques. Responsive Design allows the website to react to the type of browser that is loading it, doing things like shrinking the website or enlarging the text. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, you can find many WordPress themes that are built using responsive design. Here you can find some of the most popular wordpress themes to get you started. If you’re building the site on your own, you’ll want to do some research. To learn more about Responsive Design, you can check out this link.
Finally, the best way to know what your users want is to run some tests. The more information you can learn about your users, and what they like or don’t like about your site, the better adjustments you can make.
The first thing you can do is simply ask for feedback. For instance, after someone completes a purchase through your website, you can send them a survey asking about what they’d like to see with your site. Or you could have a quick pop-up on your site asking people to partake in the survey, and maybe offer them a small discount or other incentive if they do.
Besides asking directly, you can also run some tests. Split Testing, or A/B Testing, is a great way to try out new things on your site and see which ones your users like best. With split testing, you create two versions of the same page, each with some differences. You then randomly present the two versions to your visitors, and track over time which one performs better. You can then learn which changes provided the best result, implement them in your other pages, and try out more tests.
There’s a lot you can learn about what users want out of a website, or what elements make for a good web page, online but sometimes you just need to find out from your customers directly.
Make Your Users the Focus Whenever You’re Building a Website
So the next time you’re designing a site from scratch, or updating a current website, make sure you’re focusing on the user experience. Can users quickly find your most important content? Is your site easy to read? Are the links and buttons large enough to click on a mobile device?
Think about all of the things your users are looking for when they enter your site (or ask them directly), and then work to employ these things through each stage of the web design process. If you can do this, you should end up with a great web design that you not only love, but one that is geared towards your users.
About the author:
Dave Schneider is the founder of LessChurn, churn reduction app. In 2012 he quit his job to travel the world, and has visited over 65 countries. In his spare time, he writes about SaaS and business at DaveSchneider.me.