The Importance of User Experience When Creating a Website

26 November 2014
Published: By: Chloe Mayo

As a foreword, by the end of this blog post you’ll find a new appreciation for Bono.

You’d be surprised by how often we come across websites that look great, but in terms of user experience (or UX for short) they lack some core elements that would have helped the user have a much better time on the site. When designing anything that will have user interaction, one thing that is commonly missed out is consideration for how the user will experience it. It is key to assume the role of a user, and interact with what you have designed. When you approach design and development from this perspective, a lot of mistakes and improvements will start to become a lot more obvious. From these, you can then develop something that functions as good as it looks.

So here are some things to keep in mind when designing for UX:

The vast majority of people scan a webpage in the shape of an F
o This is good to bear in mind. On average, users will start at the top left of the screen, go down the left side, come back, go across the top, then move lower down and scan across the page. If you’re strategic with your placements of calls to action and other page items, then this is a nice little way to achieve some good UX results.

Understand the user’s needs
o It helps to take note of what the user will need from your site, and be as empathetic as you can. There is often a big difference between what you want the user to do and what they will actually do. Understanding user needs is also great for idea generation. When it comes to generating new ideas for a design, one thing that has consistently helped me is looking at what the user would want to potentially achieve, and from that come up with the simplest and/or most effective solution. Typically, the first idea you come up with will not be the best. Evolve on many different ideas; the path to an idea that works doesn’t have to necessarily be linear.

o Prototyping is incredibly important, and is the trial and error of design. The best way to approach prototyping is to initially design some wireframes and figure out where things are going to go on the page in accordance with user needs. From this, create rough prototypes and give them to people with an objective to achieve (for example, “order an item” or “find the contact information”). Monitor them and see how they deal with completing those tasks, essentially from there it’s ‘rinse and repeat’ until the UX works.

In most cases, the simpler the better
o The simpler an idea or system is, the more likely it’ll to turn out to be effective.

As long as you keep these things in my mind, it’ll be hard to make a website that has a bad UX. If you do go wrong however, don’t feel too disheartened. Even the giants of the industry have had their fair share of UX mistakes. Take Apple for instance, at their latest keynote (2014). Following the keynote’s grand reveal of U2 playing live, Apple excitedly informed the audience that every iPhone user will have the new U2 album on their iCloud account, for free! It didn’t take long for the tidal wave of complaints to come in.

From an outside perspective, that was a nice thing to do. Free stuff is always nice. However, from a UX perspective it was immensely flawed. Apple had forced something on to their users, without any choice. To add insult to injury, you couldn’t just swipe left to delete it. Removing the album from your iCloud required downloading an entirely separate app to do so. When you don’t give the user a choice about something, more often than not, they won’t want it. Matters are made even worse when you make it hard for them to get rid of what you’ve forced on to them.

What is nice though is that Bono apologised in an interview for upsetting the Apple users. It is nice to see that, completely unbeknownst to him, he appreciates the importance of UX. So that is why you now have a new-found appreciation for Bono!

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