I’m really passionate about user experience and good design so I was excited to listen to UX specialist Jay Goldman talk to our class at HackerYou about just that today. Here are three key things he told us that any developer can keep in mind to improve UX on any site.
Myth #1: You probably think this site is about you
The first question that needs answering when designing is who the website is for. It’s important to remember that both the client and the developer are not the audience for a website, users are. Goldman says that users will spend about 30 seconds of their time figuring out what a website can do for them. In that time, they make a decision to continue exploring or interacting with the company, service or product, or they leave. It’s your job to make sure they not only stay, but get what they came for.
Myth #2: A user will find what they’re looking for
My own pet peeve when browsing or searching online is coming across something I think matches what I want, but it’s not immediately obvious when I land on a webpage. This happens all the time, and it’s 100% avoidable with good UX. A website’s primary function, or call-to-action, should be immediately apparent. Many companies view their website as something they need to have (a sort-of digital brochure), but don’t appreciate what a good digital presence can do for them.
Myth #3: Your home page is almighty
A home page has to function for everybody, but more often than not, the users that will convert on your site are coming to it through other ways. More often users are finding content by “coming in the side door” – ie. their search results or social media sharing bring them to a landing page or an article page that bypasses the home page completely. This makes it even more important to ensure the information a user is looking for is where they think it is — especially if you’ve paid to bring them to a specific part of your site. Don’t funnel them through a specific path to your site just to redirect them to the home page.
More quick tips for improving UX:
- Think about how your design will translate into other products ( like emails, newsletters, mobile devices, etc.)
- Good photography is so important because it can change a user’s entire experience of a website.
- Line length greatly affects people’s ability to read content. Longer line lengths are more exhausting to read. The New York Times’ Snowfall project is a great example of lengthy content that utilizes shorter line length to help users read with ease. (The white space helps, too!)
Some usability testing services that can help make sure you (as a developer or client) are on the right track with UX:
- usertesting.com – Results from real user testing of your site
- optimizely.com – A/B site testing tool
- lukew.com – Digital designer
- alistapart.com – Focus on web standards and best practices