As websites and web applications take a more complex turn by the day, thanks to the advancing technologies and methodologies – it has evolved from a static medium to a vibrant and responsive medium offering a whole lot of rich and interactive experience.
But regardless of the cut-throat competition that exists in the web design industry, what matters the most at the end is User Experience or ‘How users perceive your website’? Besides the usability factor, it is important that your website bring value to your customer – which can eventually play a pivotal role in paving their way to be regular users.
So, how can UX or User Experience Design help add value to your website? This calls for an in-depth study and analysis of User Experience for web design.
WHAT IS UX DESIGN
UX is a relatively new concept in the web design industry and refers to respecting the ‘experience of users’. It can be about any perspective related to user experience like usability – the ease of use, efficiency in performing tasks, etc.
You can very well regard it as a clandestine layer of design; however, it has a significance of its own because it determines whether the site user chooses to leave the page or be a repeat visitor. So, you can see that UX has a significant role to play in lead generation and subsequent conversion.
The basics of UX design is requirement gathering so as to determine how the user feels when it accesses your website interface – that calls for a fair understanding of the target market. So, one of the very first prerequisites of UX design is to ‘Know Your User’ and at the same time remember that ‘You are not the User’.
UNDERSTANDING THE INTRICACIES OF UX DESIGN
– UX design cannot be generalized for all users, because what works for one website with a specific target audience cannot be applicable to the other. So, it is imperative that UX design be customized to the objectives, standards, production process and products of a website.
– UX design cannot be gauged directly on the basis of traditional metric like page views, bounce rates and conversion rates; nor are there any app that can automatically register user experience statistics.
– UX design is about user experience – as to how the user feels after interacting with the website, and should not be confused with the usability factor of a website, which of course reflects the efficiency and user-friendliness of the interface.
IS YOUR WEBSITE ‘BEST FIT’ FOR UX DESIGN?
There are several factors that could form the basis of whether or not your website could benefit from UX design. Here we are discussing a few important ones by identifying and prioritizing the areas that would gain substantially from implementing UX design techniques into website and Web app projects.
– UX design can be a great option for small organizations and Start-ups who can certainly use it to their advantage by making it obvious and attract users’ attention by creating a solid user experience for users in the very first versions of a product or service.
– UX design are the perfect fit for complex systems comprising of e-commerce websites, multi-faceted websites (portals), interaction-rich Web applications, where user experience demand for efficiency, value addition and pleasant experience.
– UX design can be an asset for projects with limited budget and also in cutting down time and effort for projects with longer timeframes – by addressing user experience issues at the very onset.
STEP-BY-STEP UX DESIGN PROCESS
This is the very first step of the UX design process where answers are sought so as to determine what aspects of the user experience has to be tapped and explored like design requirements (concentrating on special design considerations to be made), business requirements (the company goals for monetizing the product), user requirements (identifying the target audience, the customer base) and technology requirements (understanding the specific requirement viz. platform, languages; and limitations).
Knowing the user is the essence of User Experience design because if you do not understand the likes, dislikes, browsing pattern, demographics and prove ineffective in providing the solution your users are looking for; then your design is nothing more than a display of your technological prowess. Thus, user analysis is pertinent to creating a great UX design so as to understand what will sync with your user propensities. This will help you to suitably tweak your UX design for achieving the required conversions.
Once you know your users and perform the user analysis, UX design demands that task analysis be conducted so as to understand what primary action the users are expected to perform on the website or Web app – and optimize the UX for the specific user base you are targeting. Also find out if there are scope for secondary tasks to be performed and make space for UX design accordingly.
This important aspect of UX design involves reckoning the prerequisites for hassle-free handling of the website or application functions that you believe needs to happen as various levels – like determining what works best (servers or multiple systems), which (pages) will handle a particular function the best, or what needs to happen (at the backend & frontend).
Sketching on paper is a quick, creative and cost-effective part of the UX design process that can form the basis for giving shape to innovative ideas.
Once you are done with the sketches, get set with iterating your design sketches with the first set of wireframes. This is actually where your ideas take shape from mere concepts and information to a systematized documentation of how the product actually looks and functions.
The next significant step in the UX design process is the creation of prototypes, which may vary from a modest (clickable) PFD to a HTML/CSS website that is near fully-functional. Some of the convenient tools available for facilitating quick prototype creation are Adobe Fireworks, Adobe Flash, Adobe Edge Tools, Bootstrap, Foundation, Omnigraffle, etc. depending on the type and requirement of the project.
Once the prototypes are created, you can move over to make high-reliability wireframes – starting from adding all the definitions required, to including as many available specifics about the layout and interaction.
This is one of the most crucial step of the UX design process and can be performed wherever required. Even though it is commonly sought at the end of a project, sometimes it proves to play a significant role even in the beginning. However, the actual purpose of usability testing is to derive actual feedback, which would prove to be beneficial for driving your design or redesign schedule.
This is the phase when visual designers should concentrate on the UX. So besides just focusing on making the wireframes look better, incorporate ideas that could make for a great user experience.
This is when you need to collaborate with developers to fix up issues that requires UX adjustment. It also paves the way for you to understand the technical limitations (if any) for future projects. It is also recommended that you test your UX at this stage against the final product – by going back to the wireframes, so as to ensure that what your customers (users) get to experience is what you have designed.
I’m sure this consolidated UX design guide will prove to be helpful in putting together a great user experience for your customers using your website or Web app. However, it is important to remember that UX design differs from project to project and what actually works is your knowledge, experience, research and most importantly instinct.