There are countless ways to enhance user satisfaction on your website. Each page element has the potential to deliver comfortable interaction experience but only when designed properly. Similar to designing products to consumers, UX designers are offering user-friendliness. It also means they have to stand in users’ shoes to really understand the demands. Here are some practical tips on how to make every element on the website enjoyable for user.
- Content: the most informative parts of any website are its contents. Use obvious terms to explain everything. Key information should be the priority and placed in noticeable part of the page.
- Navigation: avoid having navigational hierarchy of 4 levels deep; 3 levels are accepted but avoid it when you can. Sticky menus are best for both short and long pages, ensuring quick access. The tricky part is to not make the menus distracting, but it is not impossible. Login and search should always present.
- Search: top right corner is the most acceptable location to access search feature. In mobile website, use an icon to save space. In the desktop version, search bar is recommended because it allows user to see the entire query.
- Flow: everybody wants to be creative in website design, but users want familiar designs so they don’t have to learn something new. Every page should lead to another, and you cannot afford to have dead-end page.
- Contrast & Color: some of your users are probably colorblind, so pick the colors carefully. Also, blue color is preserved for links only. Contrast is good, but you have to think about mobile users who probably have issues with screen glare.
- Scrolling: as long as the webpage provides relevant information, users do not mind to scroll, but avoid having too many long pages. Make clear indications on the direction of scrolling and what users can expect in the next page. Let us not forget that scrolling is easier than clicking “Next”.
- Loading: texts should appear first before images and other elements. To make your website feel faster, use animation or skeleton of website elements when loading.
- Readability: use consistent font styles. Some people scan and read later, so make sure you include visual variety in few places on the text. Avoid using capital locks because they are actually more difficult to read.
- Help & Hints: offer FAQ when appropriate. Contents on web page should be short, but you can make use of accordion design to compress long pages or instructions.
- Mobile: when contents and elements are packed together too closely, mobile users have difficulties to navigate. Please put in mind the thumb placements when you are reading on tablet or phones; these are where menu buttons should be. Last but not least, do not ask users to use double-tap for anything.
One of the best things about UI is the absence of complacent. People who special in this particular field of works are never satisfied with the most recent accomplishment and they are in constant quest for improvements. Over the last few years, UI design has undergone massive developments from simple interactivity with keyboard and mouse to the impressive voice-activated functionalities such as in smart home or smartphones. These great inventions in UI design will continue to move forward in 2016. We still cannot predict the future, but there are some signs that the following UI trends will take a massive progress in 2016.
Minority Report is Old
Gesture-based interactions as demonstrated by To Cruise on Minority Report was seen as future, but that was years ago. Interface models by gestures will still be used in many instances, but they are now considered part of the existing technologies that require major improvements. Siri, Google Now, and Cortana are way ahead now by bringing voice-activated functionalities. We can now have voice-activated portable car GPS.
Design before Coding
Gone are the days when creating full-blown apps is privilege for those with above-average coding skills. There have been some online tools with which even the most tech-ignorant people can create fully featured and functional apps without using any coding language at all. In the past few years, such tools are still in early development, but more of them are coming with better yet simplified features everybody can use. It means that designing skills and the ability to create visually appealing apps is going take over the crown of the user-interface kingdom. You can expect that more companies from all business categories will start offering design training instead of UX courses.
More Focused Apps
Facebook Messenger is one of the first apps to deliver feature redundancy. Instead of improving the original Facebook app to deliver more user-friendly interface, Facebook came up with stand-alone application that gives only messaging function. The 2016 will be mark the era where there is an app for everything, and an all-in-one app is coming to an end.
If it will make my life easier, I want the world to know about me
That is very strong statement that brings the idea of privacy breach, yet it delivers promising improvement for UI design realm. Applications that analyse user behavior can give automated personalisation, eliminating the hassles of configuring many parameters on users’ part. Smart home thermostat and fitness wristband are prominent examples of this trend. The former can adjust the temperature of your house based on your routine schedule, while the latter adjusts the step count goals based on yesterday’s achievements. This trend will accelerate in 2016, and users will no longer need to provide a good deal personal information to get personalised features.
The term “web design” has been used for too many times to the point where everybody thinks that they have completely understood what it actually means. Web designer is often regarded as a profession that deals with how a website looks and feels, and that’s about it. In reality, website designer profession is divided into two major categories: UX (User Experience) designer to handle how the entire product feels and UI (User Interface) designer who mainly concerns about how the products look or are laid out to users/customers.
User Experience is a particular area where a designer works to improve the overall experience that users/customers have with a company as well as its products and services. When used in the context of website development, UX designers are responsible for numerous aspects of a website including but not limited to software that runs behind the website, contents, website structure, payment gateways, and communication protocols. In many cases, the job description of a UX designer also includes interaction between products and end users. Good and enjoyable experiences mean better customers’ satisfaction.
Many people consider this the more conventional part of website designing concept. While UX is mainly about how the products feel, UI handles how everything is laid out or presented to the end users. User Interface is all about aesthetics. The primary job of UI designer is to ensure easy access for end users to get the good-experiences created by UX. As previously mentioned, there are many different aspects within the notion of user experience. However, all aspects must be laid-out in cohesive style design language that allows end users to take practical advantage of those aspects; this is where UI designer comes in.
If a website or product has great looks but difficult to use, there is good UI yet bad UX. When something is very easily usable but the appearance is not visually appealing, it is an example of bad UI yet great UX. Each profession has different responsibilities, but many parts of the jobs are overlapping because they have the same purposes:
- Improving customers’ satisfactions from website features and how the features are presented
- Providing the best possible interactions between users and website
- UX and UI are not exclusive to website design only, but they can be applied to all products
There is no clear boundary to separate one from the other. Both are crucial parts of website development, and it is simply easier to combine them as a single role, cal
There is no clear distinction between UX and UI designers. In many cases, they overlap each other and cannot be separated indeed. However, it is safe to say that UX design is much more technical and it handles many aspects beyond the border of cosmetic treatments on a website. Instead of thinking about how the buttons will look, a UX designer thinks about what comes out when the button is clicked. That said, creating aesthetically pleasant website is part of UX designer’s responsibility. Here are some tips to help you cover both functionality and beauty within the realm of UX.
Single Control Set
For the more advanced and experienced designer, using both custom and native control sets is likely possible without reducing the sense of consistency throughout the website. Mixing themes and interaction patterns can be very challenging tasks, so it is best to use a single control set only to minimize possibility of mistakes. It is always advisable to use native set, but you can use either native or custom as long as you don’t mix each other.
The main idea behind using design patterns is users’ tendency to group page elements based on shape, color, and structure. One of the easiest examples is a photo folder that has a cover to represent the contents. If the photos are filled with animals, the cover is used as representative. The same thing applies to UX design; when user sees many objects with similar elements, they’ll be able to recognize them easier. Such method allows users to organize page elements in an instant.
To make it even easier for users, you can use contrasting design. Font styles, colors, borders, and all other elements should allow for categorization. Think of it as red button for next page, while blue button for the previous one. Contrasting design gives inescapable hints on how to access different set of features and functionalities. To maintain healthy contrast on a screen or page, use subtle lines to show connections between components. When grouping between components are too obvious, the contrast can be distracting, which leads to uncomfortable experience. Subtle lines help to highlight connections in more understated yet obvious way.
Balancing functionality and aesthetics
UX designers make sure that all features and components exist on the page. Their job is to enhance website functionality to improve user’s experience. Regardless of how complex a website is or how diverse the features are, all the works are rendered useless if users cannot make sense of your design. If in doubt, always work with or consult User Interface designers to create balance between usability and beauty.