While user interface (UI) pertains to the elements on the screen with which a user interacts, user experience (UX) refers to how it feels for a user to manipulate those elements to navigate a website. A site may look great with a fresh and sleek UI but perform miserably due to poor UX. It’s essential to seek the best possible UX on sites to not only capture and retain users’ interest, but also increase conversions. If you’re contemplating a website design overhaul in 2020, keep UX at the top of your priority list and design everything else around the idea of providing users with the best possible experiences when visiting your website.
Ultimately, your website should exist to help visitors solve specific problems. Your website should look great while it helps users solve their problems, but the underlying design can either force users to work harder to accomplish their tasks or streamline their interactions in such a way that the problem is solved before the user even realized there was one. Striving to be unique with website design is a noble goal to have, but many businesses have learned quickly that their desires to be unique can easily backfire if they overcomplicate their site designs or neglect to design them with the right elements necessary for solid UX.
A few universal web design principles can make any site not only easier to use, but better at producing conversions. As you construct the roadmap for your 2020 website redesign, be sure to keep the following basics of good UX at the forefront of your design process.
Establish a Visual Hierarchy
Good UX requires much more than just a visually attractive page layout, but aesthetic elements are still vital to solid UX. To improve your conversions by redesigning your website, start the process of laying out visual elements by establishing a visual hierarchy. The human brain processes visual information in a predictable pattern, and using a visual hierarchy capitalizes on this process. Essentially, a visual hierarchy is simply a means of arranging the elements of a website in order of priority with creative use of color, typography, and placement of those elements. You want the user’s eyes to drift to the most important parts of a webpage first; the visual hierarchy basically guides them through the visible elements of a page along the path you deem most appropriate for earning more conversions.
Imagine a webpage on your site that has multiple calls to action. You likely have one in particular that you would deem more important than the others, but you still want users to recognize all of them in order of importance and then take the desired actions. The most important call to action should be the most visually prominent.
You can achieve this by making it a bolder color, a bit larger than other calls to action on the same page, or using many other possible visual cues to let visitors know this is the meat and potatoes of the webpage and where they should pay attention first.
Create Text Layouts Made for Rapid Scanning
When the average person reads an online article or the content of a webpage, the person will rarely take the time to read every single word on the page. It’s human nature to quickly scan the content to glean the most important bits of information from it rather than poring over every word, so format your text with this in mind. The general rule of laying out text on a webpage is that the average user’s attention will be well engaged for the first few moments of reading and then quickly start to dwindle.
It’s best to try and compensate for this inclination by stacking the information of your text in an intuitive way; the main points should stand out from the rest of the content through creative use of headlines and subheadings. You can also arrange the content to include the most important information toward the top and leftmost sides of each block of content. Western readers read from left to right and top to bottom, so it makes sense that most readers will absorb the beginning of what they read more than the end.
Strive to Balance Color, Size, and Contrast
Size, color, and contrast will not only aid you in creating the visual hierarchy for any webpage but also help your readers navigate the content on your site more fluidly. The eyes naturally focus on things that are larger and brightly colored, so efficient use of large font sizes, bolding, and prominent contrasting colors will draw readers eyes where you want them to go.
A good rule of thumb is to use no more than three different colors to create the color palette of your website. This typically includes one muted or earthy color, one bolder color, and then an accent color. This is a flexible rule, so choose colors that resonate with your brand’s color palette. As you choose colors for different elements of your page, remember to use your boldest color or variations of that color for the most important elements.
Make Efficient Use of Textures and Space
Texture can create subtle visual interest, but it’s best used sparingly so it does not make your webpage too visually busy. The goal of solid UX is to guide a user through a webpage gracefully, allowing them to easily glean the most important information from a page with minimal effort while also rewarding exploration through your website. Texture can make the journey through your webpages more interesting and space will help prevent your readers from feeling overwhelmed by the various elements on a given page.
It’s vital to balance your use of space just as you balance textures; too much space will make your pages feel empty and clunky when navigating them. Too little space will make it appear jumbled and busy. Efficient use of shading and space can highlight specific areas of a page and draw users’ attention toward them.
Use Appropriate Headings and Subheadings for Text
As you guide visitors to your website through the content on the site, you want to provide them with enough visual cues that they can quickly and easily identify the elements of a page that appeal to them the most. Headings over main portions of your written content are some of the most important navigational elements of a webpage, and the subheadings over different sections allow readers to quickly identify the parts of a page that matter most to them. Both of these contribute to solid UX, and users are going to be much more likely to convert to your brand if they have positive, streamlined experiences on your website.
How Does Good UX Lead to Conversions?
Your website is much more than a digital business card. It should be the hub of your content, a place where users can easily find out more about the topics pertaining to your brand and industry, and an easily navigable experience for those who simply happen upon your website. When users have an easy time finding what they need from your website, this inherently cultivates a strong reputation in those users’ minds.
The golden rule of designing for UX is that good UX translates to more time spent on-page, a lower bounce rate, and an ultimately higher conversion rate. If you have noticed a higher bounce rate than you expected or your conversions seem to be dwindling, it may be time to overhaul your website design and strive for better UX. When your site is easy to navigate, tailored to provide the most relevant and useful information as quickly as possible, and aesthetically engaging, this solid UX design will lead to better conversions.