I’ll start this in a cliché way (sorry!). Behold the definition of user experience from Usability.gov:
“User experience focuses on having a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations.”
The term user experience (UX) can refer to nearly anything in human experience. Good UX is established when the beginning of any project development phase — whether it’s a website, hiking trail, doctor’s office, app, toy, whatever — starts with consideration of how people actually want to use something.
These days, the term is associated mostly with interactive web design, and for our purposes, we’ll discuss UX in that context from here on out. As users, we demand that our internet browsing experience be simple, intuitive, and responsive to different screen sizes so that we can access information anywhere, anytime.
From a basic level, a good user experience means the website is:
At TOKY, we have a basic framework for a successful user experience design process, though every website is different. Here’s the basic gist of how good UX can be established.
You wouldn’t be building a website if you didn’t have a reason for doing so. Establish a clear set of objectives from the outset to make sure that your site upholds these benchmarks as you work through the entire development process.
Some examples of a primary website objective can be:
- Online sales
- Brand awareness
- Customer service
- Thought leadership
Users come to your site to fulfill an objective too. You’ll want to think through all the reasons someone might visit your site, what they want to achieve, and how to make it intuitive for them to do so. Often this process includes creating user personas — fake identities that represent real people — as well as user journeys that map out what an ideal browsing experience would look like, from the initial landing page through to completing a call to action.
Now that you know what you want people on your website to do, you can determine the information they’ll need. How should that information be distributed into different pages, and what supporting information is needed to make your case?
We’re now at the point where we know what content goes on which page, and what the user should be inclined to do. User interface design comes into play here to make sure that all of the information provided is easy to find, access, and understand. This process includes questions like: Will the page include a drop-down menu or search field? Do we display images in a carousel or in a pop-up window? Do we need icons to signify specific actions? For a website, this stage is especially important when considering how the site architecture and information will shift for smaller screen sizes.
The actual visual design of your site (fonts, color palettes, images, etc.) will draw from your established brand identity. It needs to work well with the established elements of every page of the site and be applied consistently. It’s important to design thoughtfully so as not to drop the ball in the final inning.
In short, user experience design reminds us to constantly measure our success on the objectives we established from the outset. It’s what will ultimately make a website work well, beyond just showing great design.
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