Websites have come a long away in a very short time. Not so many years ago, self-indulgent web developers competed with each other to show off their technical abilities and prove just how Hawkingly clever they really were.
So what if landing pages took three minutes to load? The eventual Flash splash would knock the visitors bandy and they would fall in love with the organisation who owned the website… unless they moved on before the site had loaded.
Who cared if navigating to a particular piece of information required a lateral thinking approach and a huge slice of luck? The site looked great! … eventually.
Tough luck for anyone who didn’t have eyes like an outhouse rat. Small fonts (absolute font maximum 8pt) were in!
Thankfully, like kipper ties, teardrop collars and lapels the size of yacht masts, those days are long gone. As competition for traffic and market share got serious, our industry opened its lug ‘oles to the frustrations and protests of web users. As connectivity improved and data speeds increased, patience thresholds got lower. As web designers and developers began listening and acting upon user feedback, expectations got higher.
These days, user experience (UX) is at the forefront of our thinking and dictates how we design and construct websites and applications.
The definition of user experience is: the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.
There are seven elements to good UX and we ensure that all are considered in each project we undertake.
- Usefulness. Your website should provide useful, relevant information or, in the case of an app, should fulfil its purpose.
- Usability. Your site or app has got to be easy to use and navigate. User patience is in very short supply and if there are issues with navigating your site, you will lose visitors to other sites..
- Desirability. Your site or app has to look good. Clean, clear, crisp sites with engaging images are the places visitors like to frequent.
- Findability. People need to find stuff – and quickly. Search engines have set the bar high by returning just what you want instantly, so assume your visitors have no patience whatsoever. Goodwill is not a right.
- Accessibility. Don’t forget that a sizeable minority of people live with some form of disability. You can’t afford not to cater for them.
- Credibility. Visitors need to trust the information you provide and this should be enforced with design elements to support your credibility.
- Value to you. Youy site must pay for itself by working for you – by delivering your message, selling your products, generating leads or delivering great customer support. If it’s not doing these things, you need to fire it!
If you deliver on these seven elements, you won’t go far wrong. Good luck and keep that kipper tie in the wardrobe!