Think about the last time you Googled something, scanned the results and clicked on the most viable option. As the new page loads, you feel as if you’ve landed on a different planet. You don’t know where to start, what to click on, or how to navigate the page in front of you. This mental somersault is the definition of a bad user experience.
A frustrating user experience (UX) will be equated with a frustrating brand in the mind of a consumer. Even if the brand’s products and messaging are high quality, they can easily be undermined by a poor online experience. It is the privilege of UX designers to eliminate this confusion and frustration by creating an easily recognized order.
Here are the four things we, as UX designers, should keep in mind for crafting quality user experiences:
1. Set Up a System There should be a clear, logical flow to the information laid out on the page. Systems are our friends here, and solidifying a style guide up front will help structure the information in a consistent, logical way. For example, detailing visual standards for text links, buttons, rollover states and typography will create a dependable system that will guide the user through the site. The best user experiences are those that serve up “click confidence” and delight users. Eliminate clutter and distraction for users and deliver what they need, when they need it. This allows the content to remain the focus of the site.
2. Know Your Audience Be familiar with the site’s target market. This audience will greatly influence your design choices. Are you reaching teenagers who can handle flashy interactions and non-traditional type treatments? Are you reaching a 50-year-old audience who may be frustrated by small type sizes and navigating a hamburger menu system? To be sure, get outside of your own head and test your designs on multiple people in your target market who is unfamiliar with the project. See how they fare with the site’s navigation and buttons to make sure things are clear and meeting the project’s goals.
3. Make Your Interactions Enjoyable The site’s interactions should be just as fitting to the subject matter as the design. The interactions on a page should provide a smile and pique the user’s interest. Try to choose them as a means to enhance the subject, not just to showcase cool jquery tricks. They should be influenced by the product the site is promoting to further drive home the message...subtle hints that tie into the theme of the design or hint at the way the product is experienced provide that extra level of delight as a user moves through the site.
4. Live Up To Your Expectations As UX designers we have the opportunity in our designs to make users feel welcome, seen, cared for and respected. We’re given the honor of creating a unique space for people to find the information they need to better their lives. This responsibility shouldn’t be taken lightly. Good design creates comfort for the user and trust in the brand. Design with the care that you would want to be designed for.
This article was edited with the help of Jon Copp.