When talking about Design, companies often focus more on aesthetics. But, when we talk about designing an online experience, there needs to be an emphasis on the user and usability.
- Are we solving an issue?
- Does the design represent the brand clearly?
- Can we prevent mistakes when interacting on specific devices?
- Transparency: Tell users what you will do with their information
- Give (limited) control: Provide options such as filtering or instructions, such as drop downs or tool-tips. Today's users like to customise and be in control of their experience.
- Contrast differentiates lighter or darker elements in order to define the weight or prominence of that element. A good example is to apply this principle for buttons.
- Depth helps to bring perception to elements and size helps determine a hierarchy. We would aim to apply appropriate depth for logos, icons or typography.
- Colour helps to attribute 'voice' to something, e.g. active / non-active buttons, or to determine if a product is available or out of stock.
- Alignment and spacing also create perception, consistency and rhythm. With that in mind, grids and columns make sense to distinguish information.
User-Centred Design is the process of designing an interface from the perspective of how it will be perceived, understood and fundamentally used by the end user. Essentially, this design approach places the intended users at the centre of design and development processes.
Design basics must meet the principles of a good user experience. Where UX designers want to deliver successful, functional, high-quality products, there are critical factors to consider:
1. Understanding Users & Usability
An online experience needs to become a tool for a specific purpose. The output should be as easy as possible to work with in order to ease any frustration, and influence performance and effectiveness.
Responsive Design is a key attribute to consider. Multiple devices should render consistently, especially in the navigation experience. Elements should be displayed with continuity so users become familiar with the platform.
No usability exists without thinking about the user. That said, user goals need to align with the business goals. Ask yourself the following questions:
An early and accurate understanding of user journey expectations, user profiles and personas is essential, with research and iterative testing required throughout.
2. Work the Trust
Creating a solid relationship with the user will contribute to sales and loyalty in the long-term. Trust only happens when we as designers treat people well. Examples are:
3. Work the Intentions
Specific intentions may lead to specific experiences:
For example, when a user browses a website to get ideas for redecorating their living room in an online store, designers should aim to provide a good experience that is focused on creating emotional appeal. It should feature photos, product details and make good use of the white space.
If your users' intention is to search; they are hunting for something specific. We should aim to provide them with a good experience that is focused on a systematic layout for options, filters, tags and attributes, so as to apply search best practices while also facilitating search engine optimisation for your site.
If we understand the intention, we can communicate clearly.
4. User Interface Basics
UI design can contribute to providing a clear navigation structure and visual principles to catch the user’s attention:
5. Layout & Navigation
Our eyes tend to scan and jump between important elements on a page (image, text, video, etc.).
Therefore it’s important to not only understand the user's behaviour, but also the psychology behind it. In terms of layout, it is valuable to know that users follow a predictable path when viewing a website. This helps to create visual hierarchy and mental paths to reduce confusion on the journey.
The F-Pattern by Nielsen Norman Group is one such predicted pattern that works. The typical user behaviour is to start with the upper left corner and then scan down the left side column until they find something of interest. This repeated method shows a heat map like an “F” shape which highlights strong and weak spots in a layout. You can find this in e-commerce websites within a catalogue page with filters.
Measuring the Success of UX Design – How do we Quantify Quality?
So, you have designed and built your e-commerce site, with high-quality functional features and visual elements. But how can you measure the success of your UX project? Visits alone will not generate revenue; e-commerce success is predicated on checkout completion and conversions.
Integrating testing and analytics into design processes can help to improve the business results of UX projects. While we may have subjective views about UI design quality, tools such as Google Analytics provide direct, measurable results based on historic and real-time user behaviour on the site.
Metrics such as cart abandonment rate, call-to-action clicks, and e-commerce conversion rate often indicate how design elements are performing, and potentially where improvements or changes should be made in terms of navigation, layout or checkout flow. Online shoppers expect intuitive design with a simple path to purchase. While it may be tempting to seek additional data capture or upsells within the order process, the checkout design should facilitate, and not impede, conversion. In this case, UX design should aim to minimise the length and complexity of the journey.
Design is an iterative process. Ultimately, the secret to quality design lies in an explicit understanding of the user, underlying design principles, and all teams working and communicating together to achieve results.
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