A positive user experience is one main goal to meet for pretty much anyone involved in website design and development.
If you can deliver a positive digital user experience to every user who visits your website, it’s way more likely that a large percentage of those users will take some form of action.
But before you can start converting website visitors into prospects, you must understand the consumer journey. Even more so, you need to determine if your website promotes a consumer journey geared towards generating prospects.
What Exactly is Web Design?
If you’re reading this article, then you might have a pretty good idea of what web design entails, however, if you do not understand the details entirely, we will explain them here for context.
Web design is the overarching term for any type of production within a website. This can range from graphic design, user interface, content, and more.
While most people think web design only deals specifically with the look of a website, page planning actually focuses more on user experience as a whole, and creating positive experiences for those users as they embark on their consumer journey.
There is more to a website than just how it looks. Consider the navigation of a website, the loading speed of pages, or even the overall way information is structured on a page. All of this falls under the category of page planning.
What Is User Experience For Websites?
User experience (UX) is a common term among most modern technologies. UX refers to everything about a product or service that makes a user’s experience positive and memorable.
When it comes to websites, a good user experience is necessary to improve metrics like conversion rate, bounce rate, and time on site.
“What makes your website meaningful to the user?” is the question you need to ask yourself as you’re working on your web design. Why should a user stick around on your site compared to a competitor’s website?
When it comes to the digital user experience, it’s all about the user’s emotions when engaging with your site. Ideally, they have a positive user experience which prompts them to come back for more. A positive user experience and a great consumer journey go hand in hand.
And heck, if you can do that, Google will pick up on that too and might just rank you higher in the process.
What is the Consumer Journey?
The consumer journey is the complete experience that a customer has throughout interacting with your brand. While your customers can have wildly different journeys via social media, website, and other forms of content, the journey itself should be a positive one.
When it comes to improving the consumer journey of a web user, a web design that focuses on the user experience is going to have the most success.
When you take a consumer journey first approach, you’ll set yourself much further ahead than your competitors because you’re catering to the user’s specific needs.
Web Design Elements That Affect The Consumer Journey
There are so many different design elements that affect the consumer journey. Even the best websites out there don’t hit every single mark.
But, the best performing websites on the market today know which design elements affect user experience the most, and tend to focus on improving those items first.
Let’s break down the web design elements you need for a more positive digital user experience.
Color and Spacing
The colors you choose when designing your website need to be planned out well.
Every industry, company, and website is different. The exact color schemes you choose for the optimal user experience can be situational, however you should always remain consistent with your brand’s style guide.
Your website is a conglomerate of things about your company. From your specific brand, the things you sell, the people you sell to, the way you sell them, and even the industry you’re in; the colors you use matter and they can’t be one dimensional.
Ideally, you’ll use your brand’s colors for your website, but you need to know how to integrate them in a manner that is cohesive. If you exclusively use your brand’s colors without taking into account the white space you might need, you might find yourself using too much color.
Be sure to take a look at color psychology too and how that affects purchasing decisions. In some spaces that deal exclusively with eCommerce, some shades of red and yellow perform very well.
Take a look at Amazon’s website for example. They are constantly using different shades of yellow and orange, and it’s more than likely they’ve been testing out multiple variations of them for years.
Whichever color scheme you go with, make sure you apply it to your website in a way that speaks not only to your brand, but to your target consumer.
Now let’s dive into spacing.
Spacing is just as important as the colors you use. It’s been proven many times that adding whitespace to your website improves the user experience in multiple ways.
The more white space, the less clutter you’re going to have and the more organized your website will feel.
Creating whitespace makes the areas where you do have color, that much more special, and unique.
Navigation becomes a walk in the park when you utilize the proper amount of white space, and your users will remain on your site for longer periods of time.
Site structure is one of the most significant elements of the digital user experience because it involves structuring your entire site to be easier to use and understand.
If you haven’t recognized it by now, websites are complicated and need to be easily navigated.
Structuring your website properly involves making every page on your website easier to travel to. Every page on your website should have different types of content, but when you really look at it, all of your content should be related to your business as a whole somehow.
Some of your content may even be related to other types of content you have as well. This is where items such as, internal links, your sitemap, tags and categories, URL structure, and navigation menus come into play.
The better mapped out you have your website, the easier it is for a user to figure out where they need to go, and how they can get there.
If you do it right, Google will get a better idea of where to go, and they may rank your pages better because of it.
A responsive website is a website that adjusts it’s layout depending on the screen it is being viewed from. This could range from laptop screens, iPhone screens, or any type of tablet screen.
The days of designing websites for desktop have been over (for over 10 years). Google announced over a year ago that they will almost exclusively be using the mobile versions of your content to rank you in the SERPs.
This is because Google is shifting towards what users want, and users are using mobile devices more than ever. Getting your website to be responsive on mobile should be your top priority, because most of your traffic could be coming from mobile.
Think about all the users on your website who are coming from on-the-go, word of mouth sources. They may be looking you up on the phones and coming into contact with a website that is not friendly.
You could potentially lose a qualified mobile customer because your “checkout” button was unclickable, a homepage video wasn’t playing correctly, or the mobile navigation prevented the user from moving onto the next page.
So, a responsive design needs to be able to tackle these problems right away.
The content that you display on your website should be as fluid as water, and media queries and flexible grids are at the core of making that happen.
Sitting at the core of a page’s performance is its page loading speed.
Simply put, a user who has to wait longer than three seconds for a page to load is probably going to leave right away and “bounce”. Page speed on mobile is even more important, says a study that concluded that 53% of mobile users bounce when a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
Mobile content is supposed to be fast. People who use mobile devices are usually on the move, or waiting on something, and need data to load fast. If your load times are longer than 3 seconds for any of your mobile pages, you’re going to lose valuable traffic.
But, if you can keep your load times under 3 seconds, not only are you going to enhance the user experience, Google is probably going to rank your page better. While Google has said that they don’t directly rank mobile websites better than desktop, they do rank faster pages higher than slower ones.
Think about how you can reduce your page size. Pages with a lot of photos and non-critical render blocking resources need to be properly optimized.
Optimizing photos for faster page speed includes reducing the file size by decreasing image quality slightly, reducing the size of the image, changing the file type to JPEG, and more.
If you’re worried that some of these methods are going to reduce the user experience by delivering a low quality image, you shouldn’t be. Most of these methods reduce image size without noticeably affecting image quality!
If you’re worried about your page speed, you might want to look at Page Speed Insights by Google. It’s a free tool that will tell you the speed of both your desktop and mobile versions of a site!
The tool will do a deep dive on the link you provide, so you’ll know exactly what you need to fix.
Putting It All Together
We just went through a lot of the difficult aspects of web design and page planning, but these are also the most important because of how much they affect user experience and the overall consumer journey.
No matter what you decide to focus on, improving any one of these elements of web design can drastically improve your user experience.
So, would you pass a basic Digital User Experience Checklist?
- Pages load in under three seconds.
- Site navigation is simple and intuitive.
- Pages are fully responsive on mobile, desktop, and tablet versions.
- Your website’s colors entice users to take action and blend well with your brand’s colors.
Even with four simple questions; did you pass?
If not, you must really hone in on the ones you failed on.
Fixing any one of these four web design elements will surely help you. If you’re doing all of these things right, but are still running into low traffic problems, high bounce rates, and other not so nice metrics, it could be your content causing problems.
Try to improve your content and optimize it for Google search. There’s a number of ways to do that, but one of the best ways is by developing an SEO based content strategy.
Let’s say you’ve fixed all the problems with your web design, and you’ve even implemented a content strategy, but you’re still running into low traffic and high bounce rates.
At this point you may feel stuck, but remember there are web development companies and digital marketing agencies that would love to help you strengthen the connection between your brand and your target consumer.