As designers, it’s often tempting to design a beautiful site and take a step back to admire our work. But unfortunately, we can’t design something that’s simply beautiful – websites have to be useful, efficient, and effective as well. So, once you’ve designed a sleek site, you need to test it to ensure it will provide a great user experience and work effectively. Here are our top tips for how to do just that.
Effective Web Design
To build a solid foundation for your site, you need to focus on the principles of effective web design. These principles are all centered on user experience, because an overall positive user experience should be the main goal of your site.
1. Don’t make it confusing
Internet users don’t often browse pages with a patient mindset, so your site needs to be easy to figure out from the get-go. Make the purpose of your pages obvious, and your navigation system simple and conventional so that visitors can easily find their way around. Use an intuitive system so you can more effectively communicate the benefits of your product.
2. Create visual cues
An overloaded page will quickly turn users away. A more effective approach is to focus their attention to the most important aspects of your page. You can use the non-linear pattern that users scan web pages to your advantage by placing attention-grabbing elements like images, bold text, patterns and videos in places that you want to add emphasis to. These design elements not only guide the eye, but also add a sense of orientation that combats confusion and promotes a comfort with your brand.
3. Use relevant content
The quality of content is really the most important characteristic to users. With this comes concise and effective copy, an easily scanned layout and straightforward information. Take out any unnecessary text and keep your content appropriate and understandable.
This is an extremely effective user interface: it uses sufficient white space to draw attention to the colorful elements, which encourage user interaction. Call-to-action buttons offer an opportunity to immediately get more involved, and everything is visually cohesive.
This private messaging app is visually stimulating with its home page video, which is nicely balanced with a clear call-to-action form and descriptive headline; all the information is easily perceived.
Testing your bounce rate is an important indicator of how well your site is faring with users. The bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits, during which the user clicks away from the entrance page. This rating puts a quantitative measurement on the quality of the experience your users have, so it is valuable data for improving your site.
The average bounce rate is 40.5%, so anything much higher than that shows a need for changes. To help decrease your bounce rate, assess and accomplish these areas of your user interface:
– A clear purpose
– User-friendly navigation
– Strong calls-to-action
– Intentional visual cues and adequate white space
To test your design on real users, fivesecondtest is a useful tool for gaining feedback. It enables you to establish specific questions you’d like answered about your site, then displays it to users for five seconds and receive their comments and answers.
Fivesecondtest is much like a real-life user experience, because users judge your site and decide whether to stay within five seconds of arriving. For this reason, speed is also a huge contributor to bounce rates. Users don’t like to wait for pages to load; even a 1-second delay can result in a 7% decrease in conversions. Do a site speed test to determine what your current speed is. Improve your speed to please users, as well as build a reliable reputation for your brand.
Google places a high value on site speed, and uses it in its algorithm for ranking sites for search results. Google Analytics is a great tool for measuring not only speed, but quality and time of user engagement, among many other measurement techniques and real-time testing to increase your ranking.
Use this analytics guide to get started using the many useful tools available to you so that you can optimize your website for success.
Author: Luke Clum is a Seattle based designer and web developer. Despite his local rainy weather, you can frequently find him out hiking and alpine climbing in the mountains. Follow him on Twitter @lukeclum