UX (User Experience) is the study of how a person uses a product (like a website) and generally focuses on how we can make that experience easier and more pleasing for the user.
I want to talk about two simple concepts of UX that can help improve the experience of your website:
- The Design
- Gaining Attention
The Importance of Simple Design
Many websites suffer from being over designed. The business owner (or design team) was so focused on the website being “sexy” (generally, I’ve found, out of ego). They want to be able to show off the website to their friends, rather than ensuring that their customers have a good experience.
Studies indicate that it generally takes less than 50 milliseconds for a user to decide whether or not they want to stick around on your site. After in-depth research on web aesthetic judgements, Javier Bargas-Avila found “users strongly prefer website designs that look both simple (low visual complexity) and familiar (high prototypicality).”
This means that a good design is easy to use and similar to other designs. A lot of people want their website to stand out and be “unique,” but too much of the “unique” in design can actually hurt the user’s experience. The best designs are easy to use, and similar to a website the user has come across before. Users are also looking for a clean (simple) design, without a lot of fancy bells and whistles.
We’re distracted. This (in my experience) has spanned across the globe, infiltrating many cultures. We’re hard at work…until a Facebook notification or text message distracts us. Studies are showing that the average attention span on the web (and everywhere else) is shrinking.
There are so many pieces of content, so much distraction, and so much world out there that we hate it when our time is going to waste. We hate it even more when (what should be) a simple process, like filling out a form or purchasing a product, has too many hoops to jump through.
Your above-the-fold design needs to engage the users and encourage scrolling. Users only take the extra action (clicking a button or scrolling) if you give them a reason to. Show people what things are, don’t tell them what they are. The concept “show then tell” applies very well to web design. Look no further than any Amazon product. They generally have a large selection of pictures (showing the product) with the specs and related information next to it (telling them about the product). When I’m buying a new shirt, I prefer to see a picture of what it looks like, rather than just reading that the product is 100% cotton.
The shirt example may seem obvious, but service based and non-product based businesses generally have trouble showcasing their services. Videos and pictures walking the user through a visual look of what it’s like to engage with your company, with the technical information and text below it, solves this issue.