Web Design has come a long way since the early 1990s but the ultimate goal of all websites remains the same – to generate sales or interest. The best way to do this is by providing a positive user experience for your visitors. There are six points to consider when designing a website that improves the user experience.
Design with the User in mind. The golden rule and one that never goes out of style, is your site helpful, easy to navigate, does it offer value? Develop a buyer persona of your clients to help determine their search habits, buying habits and online activity. Once you have determined a few characteristics of your demographic it will help direct the design and content to appeal to your target market.
Fast loading times: This is not news, since the thankfully gone days of dial-up we have all wanted information faster, but now with websites developing more content rich pages to comply with the competitive needs of SEO we may find our sites a little slower to load than before. Enter Flat Design the new look for 2015, Flat design helps sites load faster thanks to the elimination of shadows and gradient that eats up kilobytes. Flat design offers faster loading times, a fresher look and consequentially, a better user experience.
Responsive, is a word that’s been heard all through 2014, and by now most websites should be designed with responsive in mind. According to public relations firm, Walker Sands, in 2013, 28 % of traffic was from mobile devices, this was a 67% rise from the same time of the previous year. You can check your Google Analytics to see how much traffic is coming from a mobile device.
Continuous Scrolling, as more traffic searches via mobile, the continuous scrolling design of websites allows users to navigate multiple articles from one page, they don’t get lost in navigating the site or lose interest waiting for a new page to load. Many ecommerce sites use this feature to allow users to scroll through products, like American Apparel or BetaBrand. This is also a popular design with news sites like Forbes, Vice and Mashable. The key to successful continuous scroll sites as a friendly user experience is to make sure you add floating navigation. The continuous scroll means visitors can no longer see the top of the fold elements, like the navigation bar and sign up for emails box, so having a floating navigation allows the user to easily access top of the fold elements.
Visitors are more likely to spend extra time on a page with a continuous scroll. Think of all the time you can spend on Google+, this means there is a good chance they will see an article or post that appeals to them, and with the floating sign up box always clearly visible and accessible they will be more likely to enter their email.
Parallex scrolling is the twin to continuous scrolling and features a webpage as multiple layers. The background layer can scroll at a different speed than the foreground layer or stay static. The background layer can also offer the user information, imagery or a contrast in design to make your website design stand out from the crowd.
Original Content, we know you’ve heard this already, but everyone is looking for unique content and an authentic voice. Your website is the main platform for your brand; it should reflect your USP and your unique voice. This helps to build trust with your client base, and on the Internet, trust and quality are the key elements to maintaining long-term clients and gaining new ones.
Artistry of design should always be a main consideration, the typography used, color theory, ease of navigation and the use of white space are all integral to the user experience. We’ve all experienced busy design, bad links, difficult to read font, content stuffed with keywords, or bypassed yet another generic site that does not offer a good experience. In the words of a key designer…
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
– Steve Jobs