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User experience for websites encompasses so many different elements of a website, and really, user experience is everywhere. You see it in grocery stores, malls, parking lots—you name it, there is probably some user experience design involved. In fact, you can usually spot user experience in places where it is clearly missing or done poorly. That’s because a big part of user experience is the way that user experience has taught people to expect certain things when interacting with them. Anticipating these expectations can be hard, especially if you’re not professionally trained in doing so. But, if you follow the five tips below, you can easily create a better user experience.

1. Design with a clear goal in mind

Hierarchy is king. When choosing sizes for your typography, consider what is the most important behavior you want your user to be doing when they visit your site. For example, calling attention to sections to “buy now,” “contact us,” and “learn more” are all viable options. These sections should be the boldest and largest. From there, structure all headlines with the same mindset. What do you want people to read and how do you want them to read it? You can also draw attention to the most important sections of your website by using color or playing with negative space.

2. Always be clear and concise

Not only does your text need to get right to the point, but your design should also be free of extraneous frills. A busy website is a huge turn off to most users. You can think about this as you might think about the experience of reading a magazine. The publications that use negative space and minimal assets (such as images or big logos and design elements) are the easiest to read and the ones you spend the most time with. When designing websites, less is always more.

3. Create easy access to important information

Remember that goal we mentioned earlier? Well, now that you have your viewer’s eye on your identified section, make sure there are only two clicks between them and their end goal. If you have only taken the time to clearly emphasize your “buy now,” “contact us,” and/or “learn more,” but clicking still does not directly take the user to those sections, then you haven’t created easy access to important information. These concepts build on each other exponentially. Meaning, if you create visual emphasis but do not follow through with easy access to the information, then you are still only confusing the user. Better user experience is clear set up and an easy follow-through.

4. Innovation is good, but people are used to seeing things a certain way

Think about: if you went to a grocery store looking for eggs, and they were not near the milk, it would throw you off. You have learned to expect certain items to be categorized together in the grocery store. This same way of thinking can be applied to a website. Users have learned to expect a website’s navigation bar to be at the top of a website and again at the footer. Certain keywords, like “About” or “Services,” also carry the weight of those same learned expectations. Sure, I love trying new things when it comes to website design, but there is a very fine line between being creative and negatively affecting user experience. Being too playful with the words you choose to indicate your services or your company bio will only confuse the user. There is a time, place, and if you really think about it, industry, for unique structures and website composition. But we are creatures of habit who have been trained to expect a website to behave within the same basic framework.

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5. Use smart design to grab your users attention

Keeping the above in mind, you can still have cool animation and photos of people. People love to see real people in photographs. Subtle animations can mesmerize your user to stay longer. Anything too complicated and long might deter someone from staying on your website. Like everything, make sure the animations don’t disrupt the user experience but feel free to enjoy your creativity!

A well-designed website can take into account all of the things I mentioned above and still push the limitations of web design or start new trends. The best way to know if you’ve managed to achieve both is by doing some testing yourself. Oftentimes, I get an outside perspective when creating my user experience. I create something that makes sense to me in the moment, but others may not get the point or are drawn to something you didn’t intend in the first place. Take this advise with a grain of salt. Different demographics and audiences have different behaviors. Look for big picture feedback when asking stakeholders for feedback. Creating a better user experience needs users to test it out! And, of course, if you’re still feeling a little overwhelmed when it comes to user experience—holler at me.

Kara Primm
By Kara Primm