Monthly Archives: October 2016

Let’s Learn About User Empathy In Web Design

wb3Definition: Empathic design is a user-centred design approach that pays attention to the user’s feelings toward a product. The empathic design process is sometimes mistakenly referred to as empathetic design. – Wikipedia

THE BASICS

So why is it important? ED is about understanding your users, as well as the problems they may face – not just their goals. To truly understand this, some good old-fashioned research must come into play.
Research your users’ underlying needs, what do they really want from you and your service? What do they really want from your website? What need does your product or service fill and does your website communicate this? Step into their shoes and see your site from their perspective as best as you can. Explore your users’ stories and personal experiences. What are the underlying themes or questions here? How can the design and experience of your website meet these?

User Empathy Web Design

USER EXPERIENCE + USER EMPATHY
Is your site designed to truly connect with your users? Is it providing the best user experience? If your users are feeling detached from your brand online, it’s likely that your website isn’t taking a user focused approach. Think about how you can implement user experience and the practise of user empathy (UX and UE).

Focus on your users’ needs, feelings, experiences, and the
outcomes they expect from visiting your website. UX and UE
aren’t just pop-psychology, they are being used globally, in
large organisations, to solve real-world business and
innovation challenges.

User Empathy Web Design UX
DESIGN, DECISION, PROCESS
User’s come first, this is the position you need to take when embarking on the design process. It’s good to keep this at the forefront of your mind when you’re discussing your requirements with your creative team – use your research to guide your decision-making processes.

Even a seemingly well-functioning site, can take advantage of an empathetic approach. It’s important to a) do your research about what your audience needs, and b) step into your potential clients’ shoes, ask the hard questions, look at the themes and messages underneath all the marketing

Let the user’s needs guide your decision-making processes.

IDE Empathy Web Design UX

USER EMPATHY: THEY KEY INFLUENCERSTechnologies that know no boundaries and speak to all
audiences.

For example: people from different cultures, and situational constraints, age and ability. If you are communicating with a broad or even a specific audience you must be mindful of this and incorporate this into your website’s functionality.

User testing: through research and site testing, you can gain a true understanding of how people behave, feel, and solve problems using your website or app.

Ultimately, successful User Empathy in web design is about human-focused design where empathy is considered at the very top of the design process hierarchy.

Best Principles of Effective Web Design

wb2Like the phrase ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’,  effective web design is judged by the users of the website and not the website owners. There are many factors that affect the
usability of a website, and it is not just about form (how good it looks), but also function (how easy is it to use).

Websites that are not well designed tend to perform poorly and have sub-optimal Google Analytics metrics (e.g. high bounce rates, low time on site, low pages per visit and low
conversions). So what makes good web design? Below we explore the top 10 web design principles that will make your website aesthetically pleasing, easy to use, engaging, and effective.

1. PURPOSE
Good web design always caters to the needs of the user. Are your web visitors looking for information, entertainment, some type of interaction, or to transact with your business? Eachpage of your website needs to have a clear purpose, and to fulfill a specific need for your website users in the most effective way possible.

2. COMMUNICATION
People on the web tend to want information quickly, so it is important to communicate clearly, and make your information easy to read and digest. Some effective tactics to include in your web design include: organising information using headlines and sub headlines, using bullet points instead of long windy sentences, and cutting the waffle.

3. TYPEFACES
In general, Sans Serif fonts such as Arial and Verdana are easier to read online (Sans Serif fonts are contemporary looking fonts without decorative finishes). The ideal font size for reading easily online is 16px and stick to a maximum of 3 typefaces in a maximum of 3 point sizes to keep your design streamlined.
4. COLOURS
A well thought out colour palette can go a long way to enhance the user experience. Complementary colours create balance and harmony. Using contrasting colours for the text and background will make reading easier on the eye. Vibrant colours create emotion and should be used sparingly (e.g. for buttons and call to actions). Last but not least, white space/ negative space is very effective at giving your website a modern and uncluttered look.

5. IMAGES
A picture can speak a thousand words, and choosing the right images for your website can help with brand positioning and connecting with your target audience. If you don’t have high quality professional photos on hand, consider purchasing stock photos to lift the look of your website. Also consider using infographics, videos and graphics as these can be much more effective at communicating than even the most well written piece of text.

6. NAVIGATION
Navigation is about how easy it is for people to take action and move around your website. Some tactics for effective navigation include a logical page hierarchy, using bread crumbs, designing clickable buttons, and following the ‘three click rule’ which means users will be able to find the information they are looking for within three clicks.

7. GRID BASED LAYOUTS
Placing content randomly on your web page can end up with a haphazard appearance that is messy. Grid based layouts arrange content into sections, columns and boxes that line up and feel balanced, which leads to a better looking website design.

8. “F” PATTERN DESIGN
Eye tracking studies have identified that people scan computer screens in an “F” pattern. Most of what people see is in the top and left of the screen and the right side of the screen is rarely seen. Rather than trying to force the viewer’s visual flow, effectively designed websites will work with a reader’s natural behaviour and display information in order of importance (left to right, and top to bottom).

9. LOAD TIME
Everybody hates a website that takes ages to load. Tips to make page load times more effective include optimising image sizes (size and scale), combining code into a central CSS or JavaScript file (this reduces HTTP requests) and minify HTML, CSS, JavaScript (compressed to speed up their load time).

10: MOBILE FRIENDLY
It is now commonplace to access websites from multiple devices with multiple screen sizes, so it is important to consider if your website is mobile friendly. If your website is not mobile friendly, you can either rebuild it in a responsive layout (this means your website will adjust to different screen widths) or you can build a dedicated mobile site (a separate website optimised specifically for mobile users).It is easy to create a beautiful and functional website,
simply by keeping these design elements in mind. Have you got a website design that needs reviewing or optimising? Or perhaps, you are planning a website and you are looking to get the design right from the ground up. Either way, these principles of effective web design can help your website be more engaging, useful, and memorable for visitors.

Pros And Cons To Be Aware When Planning A Website Redesign

wd4Like any good investment, your website needs to be proactively managed. It’s not just about keeping the content up to date, but it is also about bringing the technology and design up to date to meet the needs of your business and your customers.

When is a website redesign needed? In general most companies redesign their website every 2 years, and rebuild their website every 5 years.

KEY DRIVERS FOR A WEBSITE REDESIGN:
The website looks old and dated
It doesn’t reflect the business direction
It looks terrible on mobile devices
It doesn’t convert any sales or leads
It is hard to navigate and find information quickly
It takes too long to load
It is not easy to update the content
It is not user friendly
Check your Google Analytics data for signs that your website needs help. If you have low repeat visits, high bounce rates and low average time of site – then something isn’t working.
Check the technology data to see how your website is performing on different browsers and mobile types. It is also advisable to ask a professional to perform a website analysis and propose recommendations on how to make your website work better for you.

PROS OF WEBSITE REDESIGNS
A fresh design gives the impression that your business is
dynamic and growing
You move with the times, and your website is attractive and
easy to use on mobile devices
Your website works harder for you with new functionality such
as social media integration, a blog, forums, e-commerce,
contact forms and more
Your users are happier when they can find what they want
quickly and easily
You save money, because you can easily maintain and update the
website content yourself
Your website will be more search engine friendly
You can gain a competitive advantage over your competitors by
captivating the online market

NEGATIVES OF WEBSITE REDESIGNS & HOW TO OVERCOME THEM
Regular users of your website will be see a different looking site, and may take a while to get used to it. To overcome this, it is important to consider the user experience in the design – what information do they need? What action do they need to take? Make it easy for people to find what they want in 3 clicks or less. You can also work with your designer to find a new design that is implemented over time so as not to confuse your users so much.

When you redesign a website, your website page URL’s will often change, and this will have an impact on your SEO power. To combat this, a SEO expert can inform the search engines where your old URLs have moved to, and minimise loss in ranking and traffic by preserving your highest performing pages. Make it easy for search engines to find your new pages by submitting a site map to the major search engines.

Website rebuilds will require resources such as time and money. It is important to factor in website maintenance and redesigns every 2 – 5 years and treat your website as a growing part of your business. To keep costs feasible, it’s important to choose the right developer that understands your business vision and has the skills and expertise to make the website redesign happen without unforeseen costs and delays.

Overall, keeping on top of how your website design is performing is an important part of making sure it meets your business goals online. There are powerful advantages to be gained in terms happier customers, better functionality, and a competitive advantage over your competitors. There are some major areas to look out for, but with proper planning and the right web design team in place, these negatives can be turned into positives.