UX Design Principles + Trends
Did you know almost 90% of consumers say they are less likely to visit a brand’s website after a bad experience? It’s true, a negative experience online mars our opinions and often leads to you losing out on a sale. People base a large portion of a brand’s credibility on how their website looks, feels, and complements the user journey.
Simply having a website isn’t enough; web design and user experience are huge factors in ensuring your online presence – website included – is successful.
First and foremost is to keep the user in mind and to strive to meet their needs. Throughout the entire design process, the focus needs to be on the user and improving their experience with your product or service. You therefore need to learn what your target audience is looking for in design. Do your audience research, y’all! Then, once you’re done designing (keeping the following principles in mind, of course) you need to test! Usability testing is a great way to see how users interact with your web design. And if anything keeps cropping up as a problem, you can address it head on and improve your designs before launching.
Usability + Accessibility
No matter how aesthetically pleasing your site is, it needs to be designed with purpose and simplicity. A website that has too much going on will lose visitors. A minimalist design with prominent buttons and clear hierarchy (more on that below) will help increase CTRs.
I recently discussed designing with accessibility in mind; as a web designer it is our responsibly to make sure as many people as possible can interact with our websites. For example, visually impaired users, or those in low-light, can benefit from contrasting colors between text and background. There are numerous strategies for making a design more accessible, from form formats to typography choices to alt text for images.
Clear hierarchy ensures smooth navigation throughout a design. One important hierarchy relates to information architecture; how content is organized across a website (or app). We always start a web design project with site maps to help lay out the content, menus, and pages. How content and information is organized through the nav bar is the top level of your site’s hierarchy and includes all main sections. Secondary menus (what you see when you hover on the main menu items) lead you further down the information architecture, to more specific content.
Then, designers must consider the visual hierarchy within a page or section. This is where heading styles and body text fonts come into play. Other elements, like links and buttons, are thoughtfully designed to draw users’ attention.
I think users often take hierarchy for granted because they way they move through a site seems so organic and natural but it’s an essential part of UX design!
Familiar design means users can learn new products quicker. Basically, there is no need to reinvent the wheel every time you start a new design project. We all understand certain icons and standard patterns (i.e. the hamburger menu). There are accepted guidelines for how to design products for certain devices or formats. An iOS app needs to follow Apple’s interface guidelines, Android apps have their own guidelines, etc.
People tend not to trust an outdated website, so it’s important to keep up with the trends. I’ll cover a few below, then take a look at the infographic from DesignHill for more details.
less is more?
Flat design holds minimalism dear. Simplicity is beautiful and when a website is streamlined, it fosters a positive user experience. Minimalism focuses on usability, clean corners, and bright colors. A seamless design makes navigation easier and keeps users actively engaging with a site.
However, we’re also seeing a shift – a move towards animations and 3D icons. There seems to be a desire for more interactivity, textures, patterns, and multi-device experiences.
power of typography
Good typography helps enhance and reinforce messaging. The choices a UX designer makes regarding type can improve accessibility, making materials and websites more user-friendly. Poor typography discourages users and makes reading difficult. Optimizing typography optimizes the user experience. A few ways to achieve this is to not use too many fonts, limit the amount of characters on each line, choose a font that’s easy to distinguish. Certain typefaces have similar letter forms and bad letter spacing.
More and more designers use parallax scrolling on websites. It’s a web design technique where background content (i.e. images) move at a different speed (slower) than foreground content while scrolling. This adds a sense of depth to a two-dimensional site.
For years designers were concerned with keeping the most important content “above the fold,” minimizing the need for scrolling. But a lot has changed in recent years and users are more accustomed to scrolling in search of all possible valuable information. So, one way of enticing visitors to scroll is by creating unique experiences, often by incorporating parallax scrolling. Other reasons why we like it: it can draw attention to CTAs or forms and it provides movement to otherwise static images.
~ ~ ~
Scroll on for more details. And remember, UX design is a fast-moving, ever-changing industry. We’ll be back to talk more about voice user interface, mobile trends, and more!