Contrary to popular belief, the success of any website doesn’t just depend on its design alone. It needs to be a stellar website design.
The modern-day website design should be user-centric above all else. The priority of any web designer should be to ensure that all web design elements including features, navigation tabs, CTAs, etc. must be synergized to power a top-notch user experience.
Web design elements should not just be developed based on subjective opinions. A website with bold colors, a lot of features, and an incredibly appealing text display might look good to a web designer, but if this effort doesn’t translate into ease for the end-user, then all this effort doesn’t amount to anything substantial.
While optimizing for user-centric design is an exercise that’s mostly based on researching what the user prefers or expects in a certain niche and there is no “One size fits all” approach that can be followed, there are some key fundamentals that can help a web designer get on the right track towards building a user-centric web design.
The first thing to keep in mind is that you must think like a user. Open other similar websites and observe the pain points.
How does a user think?
Well, to solve this problem, you must consider yourself a user too.
Every day you use the internet and view a lot of websites to seek relevant information.
During this journey, you search on Google for the kind of information you are trying to seek, and once the results are in, you click on the ones that seem the most relevant towards your required query.
You open a certain website and browse through the webpage in front of you. If you find what you are looking for easily, then you continue in on your journey deeper into the buyer funnel, but if you don’t, then you just go back and open another website to continue your search.
Other users do this the same way. They come to your website for just one reason i.e. to satiate their desire to seek information about a relevant product, service, or topic-related query.
If the right info is there and it’s also accessible, the user will definitely stay and interact.
So your goal should be to optimize for providing users with this ease and this is exactly what the essence of “user-centric design” belies.
Errors of any kind or inconveniences like a navigation menu that not aligned with natural screen progression will cause you to become irritated and ultimately result in you leaving the site.
See where this is going?
Even if a website has a great web design and high-quality content; any error or complexity can cause users to leave.
The difficulty of use triggers the same response.
To correct this issue, you will have to conduct a complete quality analysis of your website from a user-centric design perspective. The way to do this is simple, if something is difficult to use or makes other things difficult to use, then it has to be removed or corrected right away.
As we said before, users don’t spend time reading everything. They search for appropriate information by mostly skimming through pages. For this, they usually look for some headings or content descriptions.
A lot of web design studies have gone on to highlight the “F” format for placing content on a website since it correlates closely with how most users skim through pages.
Cluttering is a big NO for any website out there, no matter what the niche is.
Too many design elements at play on any web page confuse the user and this also makes navigation harder.
This is why users prefer basic layouts in which information is presented in an understandable format.
According to various studies, a webpage should be direct and understandable.
As a web designer, your job is to ensure that the user doesn’t need to search for what they came to find. It should be “right there” and easily visible for anyone to proceed further.
For e.g. the navigation design of your website should be easily accessible and user-friendly. If it’s complex, the user will have difficulty going to the desired points on your websites.
You can visually describe the contents of your webpage better to improve the users’ experience in this regard.
Easily accessible links can guide the users to their objectives in a much quicker manner.
It would be best if you chose an interface through which a user can filter through your website with ease and end up with the information they are looking for.
The initial tryout of any service should not just be easy, but also backed up with a “Low demand” flow.
Users aren’t persistent and will most probably give up after the first try if too much is demanded off of them in the very first go. First-time guests are happy to try a particular product or service, but they probably won’t do it if you couple the tryout with a high amount of forms that they are required to fill.
Let users go through the site and find your products without constraining them into sharing private information to navigate through the site or load certain features. It’s not sensible to constrain clients to enter an email address to test the component.
Many experts say that it’s better to ask users for their email or similar information only after they’ve thoroughly tested the desired service.
What’s more, is that you need to ensure that your clients feel free on your site. It is important to note that you create no hurdles in the way of your users. In this way, your site will become more user-friendly and will prosper with time.
Flashy, visible content can easily help gain user attention. Bold words, mixed colors, and colorful links are something that we all get attracted to, even without knowing or intending to. One of the key secrets towards attracting a user’s attention is to use images that provide powerful limelight towards the messages you are trying to provide the user with.
Images can tell a user more about your website than words can. Our brain detects motion and thus draws our attention towards it. This is why video ads manage to get our attention one way or another eventually.
Colors are incredibly unappreciated in this regard. You are less attracted to bad color combinations but will admire good varieties. This is to be considered while choosing an appropriate color palette for your website design and its related components.
Another secret is attracting users’ attention towards areas on your site you know they will be interested in.
If your website has features, then it’s best to ensure that they are as visible as possible.
This can be done by either providing users with visual/text-based cues on how these features can be used or where they are available.
For e.g. a site that has a feature that allows users to check whether their site has broken links has to ensure that it offers the user a complete, vivid description of how this feature works and how they can benefit from it, rather than just telling them that this feature exists.
Allowing users to see the features on your website will make it easier for them to interact with these features in a meaningful manner.
Web design is not just about the design elements, content plays a major role in it too, especially in how it’s displayed or meant to be displayed to the end-user.
Your content should never be jargon-based. Using difficult words or complex expressions will only result in users getting turned off. Content is there to facilitate the user’s journey, so stick to that and use promotional content only when it goes with this ideology.
Bad content is not the one that is written badly, but the one from which users don’t derive any value from.
Here are some helping guidelines:
Try your best to maintain simplicity. It’s completely fine to use all the necessary and modern features, but the goal is to keep the overall format and content understandable and straightforward.
From the guests’ perspective, the best site interface is one that’s simple with no nuisances like unnecessary pop-up advertisements or further hurdles hampering their users’ experience.
Most writers are afraid of the leftover white space on the screen. They think that this space could be utilized for better purposes, such as side facts of some sort.
In reality, empty space can be extremely beneficial if utilized well.
It keeps the users’ attention hooked on to the actual content. As users divide the page into parts based on usefulness, the empty space provides significant usage by helping them to analyze the content available in a much better manner.
Design segments can also be separated better by this space. It gives the content a much more transparent and professional look. Currently, many web design layouts provide white space to facilitate better user experience.
Give the users, a reasonable and well-calculated structure. Consistency, screen format, anchors, and well-drawn visual maps are significant towards ensuring such precision. Similar guidelines and rules ought to be applied to all other web design components.
Do the most with a simple layout. Four essential things that can help you achieve this layout design are:
Simplicity: The components that are generally significant for your site should be easy to use and interact with.
Clearness: All parts ought to be planned, so their significance isn’t questionable.
Uniqueness: The properties of your web design components ought to be one of a kind.
Accentuation: The most significant features ought to be clearly seen and highlighted
Your web design doesn’t have to be unique or trendy always. If there is no reason or logic to put them there, then don’t do that.
Stick to conventionality here and try working with the conventional layout designs available out there.
This will help you stay true to your original purpose of creating a user-centric design in a much better manner.
Through following this path, you can benefit from the conventionality that these formats bring. Since these formats are out there on most sites, so most users will be familiar with them, thus allowing them to interact with the site much more easily.
Testing and research are two things that you should never stop if you want to achieve a truly user-centric experience.
If a CTA isn’t bringing in a high amount of clicks, then try changing its colors, its design, its content, or even its placement, till the clicks start to rise the way you want them to.
The way users interact with different web elements leaves behind tons of data and if you test and experiment, you can use this data to better your web design and progress in the right direction.
If you have been working on your site for a very long time now, then don’t review it on your own, since you won’t be able to bring in a fresh perspective to it.
Hire someone neutral and ask them to do it. This will help you get an unbiased analysis of how good your web design is and where exactly can you bring in improvements.
Agencies who offer professional web design services can help you do this, so take their help if required and you will soon be on the right track towards getting stellar web design for your website.