User experience and personalization was the top trend for website development, and it will continue to be for 2018. Designing and executing the best architecture for a website engagement and conversion, while offering the right content at the right time to improve SEO and move prospects through the sales funnel, needs to be every marketing executive’s top priority. It remains a process of emotional transformation for many organizations, as top executives push still need to be convinced that creative design alone isn’t going to make their website the business tool that it needs to be.
With that in mind, here are our top tips for creating websites with user design as the first and foremost priority:
- Personas are evolving. It’s easy to look at personas as a type of user who fits into certain common demographic categories. In the political arena, for example, a typical persona might be the “soccer mom,” shorthand for suburban mothers in the 30-45 age range whose main concerns are focused on their children. That makes sense for political purposes, but it gives little insight into how people actually engage with a website. We are recommending grouping personas into categories according to what they want to do on the site. Is it browsing, comparison shopping, or looking for specific content in order to make a decision. Recognizing these groupings offers more useful insights about what they want from their experience, and how best to deliver that content when they want it.
- Less is more. It’s easy to clutter up a website with tons of promo boxes and fly-out menus. But the goal is to make it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for and take the actions that we want them to take. Instead, design the home and landing pages to reduce the tasks required of users to the bare minimum. Make it simple, and get rid of all the clutter that doesn’t add value or that serves as a distraction.
- Design the user experience. Remember that designers are always working on large monitors with the best resolution. Unfortunately, most users are on laptops, tablets or mobile devices. User design for that reality shouldn’t be an afterthought. Visual hierarchy, spacing, content grouping, positioning, and size should be solved in the wireframe process before a visual designer is passed the assignment.
- Take a field trip. There’s an old adage in real estate that says the more houses a homebuyer visits, the more likely they are to know the one they want when they see it. That’s why one of the early steps in our design process is an extensive virtual field trip to explore design elements in scores of websites across multiple industries. The idea is to show the client team the wide range of user designs that are out there on the web and to react to the design elements and functionality in multiple settings. We watch their faces closely during this exercise to see what they respond to, and to give them the confidence of knowing it when they see it.
- It’s all about the user. It’s easy to gravitate to what you like for the website based on your own preferences. But it’s not about you, it’s about your customer and the user experience. While tempting to select design elements with your own preferences and tastes in mind, that won’t help engage your target audiences if they have a whole different set of preferences and needs. Always remember that it’s about what users want to do. Our job is to help them to get the content and take the actions they want in the easiest and most intuitive way possible.