Whenever you see a website or access an application for the first time, you may not realize what went into the process unless you find yourself distracted, annoyed, or even interrupted. The UX, or user experience, of a product, service, or online platform, refers to the process that is undergone to ensure that any user who attempts to access or use a particular developed item can do so with easy accessibility and without hassle.
What is UX design?
UX design is commonly referred to as the user experience of a website or online platform, application, or piece of software. A user's experience is often based on how easy a website is to navigate, or even how accessible a platform is based on the user's individual needs. Whenever you are in the process of building a website, you will need to consider how your users will find, access, and browse your website to provide the best UX possible.
If you have heard of UX, you have likely heard of UI design, or user interface design. Both UX and UI are often used interchangeably, although they operate much differently. While the user experience of a website is based on how someone feels while using the website or attempting to get the most out of it, the UI, or user interface, of a website references the individual visual elements used to create the website itself. UI design can be everything from logos and traditional buttons to thematic design elements that are used to set your business or brand apart.
What does a UX design process entail?
The UX process requires more than creating a functional layout or design for an application, piece of software, or website. A lot of thought and work goes into the design process of UX, especially for those who take their positions seriously in terms of seeing and generating results. Understanding the UX process is essential for any online developer, designer, or marketer.
Brand and market research
Brand and market research matter, especially when it comes to developing a new website or launching a new application or online platform. Conduct brand and market research to learn more about the existing competition while also comparing the various designs and marketing methods the top performers use in your current market.
You should also use market research efforts to dig deeper into the potential spending power of your target audience, as well as the demographics you intend to reach with your own marketing campaign strategies. Knowing what your audience wants and needs from you can provide you with the resources you need to ensure you deliver.
If you are new to UX design, you should also keep the following variables in mind while conducting user research:
- Specific goals for segmented audiences of users/customers
- Customer background information
- Age/age ranges
- Spending habits
- Pain points/stressors in everyday life
Someone who is well-versed in understanding their target audience will have a much easier time developing the UX for any website or online application.
With each new piece of market research you discover, you should analyze how that may fit into your own UX process. Playing around with the results and data you receive to find the best design and experience solutions possible can go a long way when it comes to developing good UX design.
Brainstorm and design
Once you have a few ideas in mind for your next web design project and you want to begin working in the UX, you can start to brainstorm with sketches, various wireframes, or prototypes you develop.
- Sketching: Use sketching to brainstorm ideas you have for the website or web application you are developing. Sketching can save time while allowing you to really get creative with complete flexibility.
- Wireframes: Whether you are designing a website or building a mobile app, drawing wireframes can help you to visualize the overall experience you are creating.
- Prototypes: You can also develop prototypes of the product, program, application, or piece of software you are creating to test them before releasing them to the public.
Validation and testing
Once you have developed the UX design that is right for your audience, you will then need to test your creation. The validation and testing process is not just to ensure the stability of a new design or web development project, but it can also provide insight into the overall viability of new additions to a website or app. A few ways to begin the validation and testing process include:
- Try it yourself. One of the best and most reliable methods of validating a new website or application is to test them yourself. Having your own developers test your creation is also recommended, especially before a public launch and release.
- A/B testing. Use A/B testing to test and validate a website or app via various referral links and with the use of different web or mobile browsers.
- Surveys. You can also offer surveys to those who agree to help conduct testing and validation before going public.
- Analytics. Collecting and using data and stored analytics can help significantly reduce a website's bounce rate and determine which design and development is best for any online project
3 ways to improve your user experience
If you want to improve your website's UX while also having the ability to easily increase website traffic, there are a few ways to do so even if you are new to UX yourself.
1. Organize your navigation features
Whether you are developing a one-page landing site for a promotion or an entire online community, the navigation of your website or mobile app is key. Ensure the navigation of your project is well-placed and in the proper position to help streamline the browsing process of accessing your website for your visitors.
2. Improve overall readability
There are thousands and thousands of typefaces available to download and use on websites and within graphic elements you create for your website or app today. However, this does not mean that all fonts are good, or that they are appropriate or fitting for the brand and user experience you are working to create.
Consider the demographics, age range, and level of tech-savviness your audience has before you choose a funky font to represent your website and all of the content you provide on it.
You should also consider using standard fonts, such as Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, and Georgia, to ensure that all of your users are able to read your website without loading or display issues. If you still want to use a more modern or stylized font, consider using a resource such as Google Fonts, which provides thousands of unique typefaces that can be implemented into any website or most apps with the use of an active script.
3. Keep white space in mind
Any designer, whether working in print or online, will tell you about the importance of white space. While some designers and developers prefer to keep white space to a minimum while developing their creations, others will tell you that white space is absolutely necessary. Consider how you intend for your website or application to be accessed and by whom before determining how much white space is appropriate in the design and layout of your project.
Why is UX design important?
First impressions matter, especially with the vast expansion of the internet, social media, and the online economy. When you only have a single opportunity to convert visitors into customers, focusing on the experience your users have on your website should remain a top priority.
Some of the advantages of excellent UX design include:
- Create a lasting image for your brand. Great UX will stick with a person, especially if they have trouble accessing websites or apps otherwise.
- Build a positive reputation. Excellent UX will lead to a positive reputation, which in turn will result in additional referrals and leads, allowing you more opportunities to generate revenue.
- Outperform competition. Competition is great in most industries today, which is why visual presentation and user experience matter.
- Be taken seriously. If you are selling products or services, you will be taken more seriously with a professional aesthetic, UI, and UX online.
Understanding the UX process from start to finish can go a long way when building a website or developing an online project of your own. When you are familiar with the user experience design process and you know what your target audience needs, you can develop a website or application that is sure to attract new prospective users and/or customers. With an all-in-one marketing and website-building solution such as Mailchimp, streamline your design and marketing efforts to maximize your reach and visibility online in any industry today.