User experience (UX) design refers to creating & establishing positive experiences for the people who are using a website, product, or service. The user experience in web design is supported by usability, usefulness, and desirability. It’s all about the user.
UI is a subset of UX, focusing on the visual and interactive aspects of a design. A website’s UI includes the elements on a website that users see and interact with, like buttons or sliders. Designing a good UI directly affects the user experience.
When designing your website or updating to implement new features, keep these UX and UI elements and best practices in mind to ensure that it is successful.
When creating a website, consider the 10 usability heuristics for UI design established by the Nielsen Norman Group, the leading experts in UX:
- System status – Allow users to understand where they are in a process so they know or can expect what to do next.
- System & real-world match – Ensure the language & actions included on a website are familiar to the user; avoid jargon and unfamiliar concepts, and ensure information is displayed logically to reduce confusion and establish intuitive experiences.
- Control & freedom – Allow users to undo, redo, and exit a process. Don’t trap them into something they can’t get out of. This can cause frustration.
- Consistency – Make sure the elements are the same and nothing is unexpected.
- Error prevention – Include confirmation, check for errors, etc.
- Recognition over recall – Don’t force users to remember things; reduce their memory load by making key elements, actions, and options visible, like in a navigation menu.
- Flexibility & efficiency – Allow users to tailor their actions and processes; allow them to use shortcuts (if possible), and allow for personalization/customization.
- Aesthetic & minimalist design – Keep the content & design focused on what is essential and don’t distract with unnecessary elements.
- Error correction – Error messages should be understandable and offer helpful solutions.
- Help – Ideally a system shouldn’t require further explanation, but if it is necessary, offer searchable documentation that concisely lists concrete steps that need to be taken.
Style Guides & Branding
If your company has a consistent brand style, it is important to ensure that your website adheres to your established style guidelines. A consistent look and feel will improve brand recognition and help users remember your brand.
Within the website itself, ensure that all elements and components are consistent with one another so there are no surprises within the design that will confuse users.
Include contrast, balance, pattern, movement, proportion, emphasis, and visual hierarchy within the design of your website. These elements are key to a good website design.
With the prevalence of devices that stray from the original desktop ratios and the increased use of devices like smartphones and tablets, it is imperative to ensure the design of your site is responsive and will resize to the proper proportions of any device. 85% of users believe the mobile version of a site should be just as good as the desktop version. If it is not, users may write off your site and brand as not being modern enough, which can break any trust they have in your company.
Be sure to create content with the user in mind. What do they need to know? What language will help them move through the website in a way that makes sense for them?
Writing for a business differs slightly from writing for the user, so be sure to keep the users’ needs in mind when adding content to your site if you want to foster positive user experiences.
It’s extremely important to ensure your website is accessible for everyone. Not every user experiences websites in the same way, so you must consider every use. In this day and age, it is crucial to follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Inclusivity is not optional, and some users may utilize various tools to help them use a website. Design with accessibility differences in mind, such as visual, mobility, and auditory impairments, incidental issues, or environmental challenges.
Without good UX/UI, websites can’t perform at their best. Users can be frustrated, wary, and unwilling to engage with a website that doesn’t have great UX/UI. Well-established UX/UI can ease website visitors’ worries, ensure they can accomplish what they need to on the website, and keep them coming back for more.
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