What makes a great website? There are many ways to measure the effectiveness and quality of a website. Web designers can use a handful of quantitative data that will help them determine if the web design is effective, especially for e-commerce where the added value to a business is measurable. But for any site, one of the most telling signs is user experience.
Web user experience (UX) describes the overall experience of a website visitor. It gives us a glimpse of how they feel when they browse a site. It therefore allows us to check for areas that need improvement.
Which pages produce high exit and bounce rates? Where do visitors spend more time? What pages get the most activity? These are all questions, to which answers are provided by data that we can easily find with an analytics tools — data that will help us fix any design flaws and improve user experience for better results.
Providing great user experience should be the motivating force behind web design.
Websites that offer great user experience tend to outperform others that don’t, simply because they stand out.
Designers need to focus on designs that offer great user experience. Though we can’t manufacture user experience, we can greatly influence the way visitors feel about a website by paying attention to elements like user flow and web posture.
Web posture and its effect on user experience
Posture is the appearance of a website. Software designer and author Alan Cooper defines it as the way a website presents itself — the stance and how it utilizes visuals and other resources that will help visitors have an easy browsing experience.
Proper site posture can be determined by the following: utilization of the screen area, location and design of links, and the use of modal properties, like pop-up windows. Users have become more intuitive of poor web design. That’s why people generally leave a site after a few seconds when they don’t like what they see. Designs that don’t attract attention will lose visitors. And it’s not just because the page lacked visuals. Web users leave when they don’t find the information they need quickly and when they realize that the site offers little value.
A great number of websites use pop-up windows, much to web users’ dismay. These have been effective for some businesses because, according to a recent report, pop-ups have 50% more chance of getting noticed than banner ads. However, usability expert Jakob Nielson believes 95% of visitors absolutely hate them.
Pop-ups disorient users, which means they hinder smooth user flow. In some sites, pop-ups appear a few seconds after arriving on a page. That interrupts someone who’s already searching for information, like reading an article or checking out products to buy.
Screen real estate
Websites appear differently on browsers and devices. With the emergence of mobile devices, a lot of websites are now optimized for tablets and smartphones. Consequently web designers need to be aware of how the screen area is used. They need to be compact and flexible when viewed on any screen so users don’t feel strained.
Links are crucial to any website. They have a huge impact on user experience because they connect web pages together and provide users a way to find more content. It’s very important to know how to style links properly.
The bottom line is a good overall appearance and smooth user flow make for a great user experience. A website design that offers both is sure to stand out and be remembered by visitors. That’s what makes a great website. Most importantly, it’s what helps clients yield better results—convert visitors, engage customers, and generate profits.
What UX issues do you consider most important? What can we do to improve site flow? Let us know in the comments.
Featured image/thumbnail, flow image via Shutterstock.