User Experience, also known as UX, is how a user interacts with and experiences a product.1 UX applies to anything that can be experienced, such as using a website, visiting a café or operating a piece of equipment.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines user experience as a “user’s perceptions and responses that result from the use and/or anticipated use of a system, product or service”.2
UX may be subjective as it is about an individual’s perception, emotions, beliefs, responses, thoughts, behaviors and accomplishments that occur before, during and after the use.1
It should be clarified that user experience and usability are different concepts, however they overlap. Usability includes the practical aspects of simply getting a job completed, while user experience refers to the user’s feelings, coming from both practical and pleasurable aspects.
Website User Experience
As it suggests, website user experience refers to human-computer interaction and how a person feels when interfacing with a system, whether that is a website, a web application or desktop software.
“User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” That’s Don Norman’s description, the Cognitive Scientist who coined the term.
Peter Morville, a pioneer of the fields of information architecture and user experience, has designed a User Experience Honeycomb3 to represent the requirements for there to be a meaningful and valuable user experience. Seven factors contribute to the website user experience:
· Useful. Determine whether products and systems are useful and define innovative solutions that are more useful.
· Usable. Ease of use is vital. Usability is necessary but not sufficient.
· Desirable. Consider the power and value of image, identity, brand and other elements of emotional design.
· Findable. Ensure navigable websites so users can find what they need.
· Accessible. Websites should be accessible to people with disabilities (more than 10% of the population so it’s good business and the ethical thing to do).
· Credible. Understanding the design elements that influence whether users trust and believe what they are told.
· Valuable. Websites must deliver value. For non-profits, the user experience must advance the mission; with for-profits, it must contribute to the bottom line and improve customer satisfaction.
The Importance of Website UX
A business’ website is a powerful tool available 24 hours a day and a valuable asset so it makes sense that website UX can determine a business’ success and is therefore a critical aspect in the development of a website.
Businesses are quickly learning how important it is for their website to project a good impression on users to enhance their brands and build trust and loyalty. The experience a user has when visiting a website can set their whole perception of the business, depending on such things as how information is communicated, the ease of navigation across the website and how to make inquiries. It can affect whether the user becomes a regular visitor to the website and whether results are achieved for the business. Users expect their experience to be effortless and are becoming less tolerant of negative experiences so if a website is disjointed, cluttered or difficult to use they are likely to bounce.
Websites and web applications are more complex now. In the past, very little if any consideration was given to how users would feel while interacting – websites were generally designed and built only with a focus on aesthetics and the brand. It’s no longer enough just to have an attractive website. How websites are built now focus on the experience users will have. Websites which have always stood out have been those that were easy and pleasant to use. A website’s success will continue to rest on how users perceive it. The team at Web Force 5 is constantly developing innovative websites using the latest technology and according to best practice.
Also, users are now accessing websites in many ways – a range of browsers, different types of internet connections and mobile devices. There is more need for worldwide access and access for people with special requirements.
How to Improve Your Website UX
Website user experience design is a cognitive science in theory. As mentioned, it is subjective as it is based on a person’s perception and we are all different so what works for someone won’t necessarily work for someone else. Website user experience will vary between websites and therefore the design needs to be tailored to each. Generally in a website, users want clarity and simplicity, ease of navigation and a site pleasing to the eye.
UX design focuses on creating an easy, relevant and pleasant experience for a user when using a website to achieve certain tasks. It is not solely about visuals but the overall experience, developing and improving the quality of the experience a user has with all facets of a company. For optimal results, website UX needs to compliment the business’ brand.
At Web Force 5 we have a team of website UX experts who provide companies of all sizes with successful, cost-effective websites built with website content management systems that allow for a perfectly crafted experience tailored to each audience.
Once your website has been launched, tracking and measuring the performance is critical. Google Analytics is one of the best tools you can use to obtain key metrics such as bounce rate, time spent on your site, pages per visit as well as tracking goals and specific funnels to determine what design layouts, content and imagery works best. Viewing metrics on landing pages is valuable to see how users are visiting your website and how to best attract and engage them. This data will give you a detailed insight into your users and you can tweak your elements of website via the website content management system to improve it where necessary.
Continuum is a platform offered by Web Force 5 which is powerful but not expensive. With a fantastic range of features, it includes an easy CMS and will allow you to create content, add images and links, alter page layouts all simply and efficiently. Another feature is providing invaluable reports in conjunction with Google Analytics to use to optimize your business.
Optimize page speed – users expect fast results and if they don’t get it, they get frustrated and often leave the website.
Differentiate hyperlinks and calls to action – using underline or a different color for hyperlinks clearly identifies them for users and good use of action words and even the color can enable users to easily navigate the website.
Use clear headings and bullet points – key information is quickly identified using concise headings and bullet points, improving the user’s efficiency to obtain information.
Use images – wherever possible, use personalized images rather than stock photos to create a connection between the user and the brand.
Consistency across pages – using consistent fonts, colors and images not only provides an attractive website but one that is easy to use.
Watch your 404 errors – coming across a 404 page error is a source of huge frustration for users and prevents an easy flow through the website.
Mobile friendly – so users can access your site anywhere and anytime, ensure the website is mobile friendly and can be easily navigated on any device.
It is clear that website UX is a necessary component of a business. Contact Web Force 5 for a no obligation chat about well-considered and dynamic support for your business.