User Centered Web Design
Learn how to effectively utilize user-centered web design with Search Hustle.
When designing a site, one of the primary focuses should be on user-centered web design. If you forget this important aspect and instead only emphasize pretty aesthetics and a fancy interface, you’ll end up neglecting the user.
User experience (UX) is one of the most important parts of having a successful business website. User-centered web design is meant to ensure the features of the site are both useful and easy to navigate.
What is user-centered web design?
User-centered web design is the practice of creating a website grounded in putting the user first. In short, the design of the site takes into account what the objectives and requirements of the user are.
No matter how amazing the products or services of a business are, if their website has an interface that’s difficult to use or pages that lag then potential customers will not want to hang around. Even the most gorgeous website is meaningless if users struggle to use it.
When user-centered web design is at the forefront, the user experience is enhanced. In turn, this leads to users converting into loyal customers, higher engagement, a boost in sales, and much more.
Designing with the user in mind, not yourself
The first step to design a user-centered website is to understand both current and potential users. This will ensure that users are put at the center of every design decision.
What will users expect from the website? Why are they visiting the website? How much time will users spend on certain pages and what actions will they take? Find the answers to these questions and you will be able to create a user-centered website.
Make it easy for the user to navigate
Site navigation should be simple and easy. If a user comes to the website and can’t find the information they want or find the interface confusing, then they’ll end up bouncing. This can lead to the cascading effect of the site’s ranking factor dropping and then the site no longer being on the first page in the SERPs, as bounce rate affects this.
In addition to navigation needing to be clear, site responsiveness and page load times should be fast. Keep in mind that almost 60% of all online searches are done on a mobile device. The business website should work fast on all devices and screen sizes.
Write simple, concise copy
The copy of the website is what helps bridge communication and intended actions. Sentences should be short and simple so that the message comes across as natural to the user. Copy should either be informative, entertaining, or a mix of both. In turn, the copy serves to help steer the user toward a clear goal, such as signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase.
Communicate with the user
In order to reach the desired effect from users on certain site pages, be it downloading a free e-book or adding a product to their online cart, information must be quick and easy to find. When designing a website, always keep in mind that users are visiting to achieve a specific purpose.
If a user struggles to find what they’re looking for, it’s inevitable they’ll become frustrated and leave. To avoid this, offer help and guidance on the site to show where to go to attain the information they’re after. This can be in the form of internal links within the copy, navigation links on the sidebar, etc.
Focus on the user more than the product
Every business wants to sell their products. However, a business can’t lose sight of its users needs in the pursuit of growing sales.
A fancy, complicated interface and a complex directory of products will have the opposite effect of encouraging purchases. Instead, customers are looking for high-value content that answers their questions and then leads them toward solutions (products/services) to their problems.
Understand your audience
To accomplish a user-centered web design, the target audience must first be understood. This means that you need to know what type of people are interested in using the products or services offered by the business.
This is where buyer personas come in. A buyer persona can help you to gain a deeper understanding of the target audience. Buyer personas are mini-profiles that can display the characteristics of both current and ideal users.
Use the following questions to help develop buyer personas:
- What is the gender, age, occupation, relationship status, location, and personality traits of the user?
- What needs does the user have?
- What device does the user make use of to access the website?
- For what purpose does the user visit the website?
- What social media platforms does the user use and how often do they check it?
- What does the user do during their leisure time?
Research the needs of your audience
Using surveys is an excellent way to discover users’ needs and wants.
If a customer base already exists and you plan to redesign the website, send out a questionnaire. This can garner feedback on the type of changes the users would like to see. It also shows that the business values their input.
If an extensive customer base doesn’t yet exist for the business, then you can create a web page with a survey for users to take. Make use of social media to help advertise the survey and direct people toward the site page.
Design according to your research
Once you have gathered all the pertinent information regarding current and potential users, it’s time to put thought into the information architecture of the website. This consists of how information is presented on the website and will affect functionality and usability.
The navigation of the website should serve to create a positive experience for the user. This means it shouldn’t take them long to find the information they’re after or expend much mental effort. Similar content should be grouped together and there should be a natural progression and flow to the steps a user takes to achieve a specific goal.
At the end of the day, user-centered web design can help with customer satisfaction and retention. When customers are happy and don’t struggle to navigate a site, you will be able to more easily meet business goals and stay ahead of the competition.
Keep in mind that user-centered web design is iterative. Nothing is forever static and the needs of users is the same. Users will change, which means the website will need to be able to adapt and make the necessary changes.
By staying open to user feedback and conducting testing, you will be able to remain informed and keep the website user-centered.