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The First Seven Things About User Experience

When creating a website there are a few things you should always keep in mind. The first, second and all through to the fifth or sixth by my count is user experience.

Sure, some freelancers out there might argue that meeting your employer’s expectations is a must that should be pretty high up, but, trust me, it should not be above user experience. Why? Well, because regardless of what your employers may or may not believe in the end your website has to make sense and be enjoyable for the people who browse through it, i.e. the users.

Now, user experience has become a much more important subject as of late, with responsive websites being the norm and most developers and designers paying closer attention than ever to issues like loading speed, content management and navigation. Usability.gov, a website that aims to supply information about the what, why and how to of User Experience offers the following User Experience Honeycomb developed by Peter Morville.1

The above illustrated are the core values of creating and sustaining a positive user experience for your website.

All your website’s content must be useful, in the sense that your visitors should find that it is both adequate and sufficient for delivering the message or information that you are trying to convey. One trick to improve your user experience, content-wise, is to break down the information you have into readable and manageable chunks. Infinite scrolling may be the way to go for some websites, but it is a definite no-no when it comes to large bodies of text.

Your website must be usable and accessible and before you go for the mandatory ‘d-uh’ comment, think of how easy to use your website would be for those with limited mobility or who are visually impaired. Try one or both of the following: take your mouse and put it safely away, then try to navigate your website by only using your keyboard or get one of your friends on the phone and see how well you get the information contained in your website across by only using the words in the HTML document. Visually impaired people use a variety of tools that convey to them the text contained in a web page, either directly in the HTML or in the alt tags of images, think of how easy it is for them to get the gist of your website once you take out most of the design out of it. Moreover, make sure that the objects in your page look like they do what you’ve programmed them to do, for example buttons should look clickable, links should stand out, primary and secondary actions should be clearly separated (i.e. on an online shopping website the action for Add to Cart should be more obvious than something like Add to Wishlist).

When it comes to desirable most web developers have the whole thing in the box. By using some of the latest trends in design like HTML5 animations or ghost buttons web designers manage to attract and maintain viewer’s interest and make their pages memorable.

When it comes to findable some websites are still struggling. Navigation isn’t always a main concern for developers and designers since they always know the website in and out and are very unlikely to get lost. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work the same way for users. Make sure that you always leave breadcrumbs that will make it easy for the user to both know where he or she is at all times and which way to go back.

Now, I know you imagine you’re all stand-up people and that there’s really no reason anyone shouldn’t put stock in what you say, but it doesn’t really work that way online. Your website must be credible, the users who browse through it have to believe that the information you’re giving them is both accurate and dependable.

Trying to create the best user experience possible or to improve the user experience on websites you’ve already created should not be a daunting task. There are a few areas related to building user experience like project management, user research, usability evaluation, interaction design and more that can help you. All of these areas have their own assets to bring to the table where user experience is concerned and taking into account even the basics of each one in both current and future projects could prove to yield impressive results.

Anamaria

I read, I write, I sleep.

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