Having a website that looks amazing is completely wasted if people landing on the website don’t really know what it’s for and can’t find the things they’re looking for. People look at websites because they want or need something and, if your website doesn’t appear to give it to them immediately or very very quickly, they will click off no matter how fabulous it looks, sadly.
Conversely, if you have a simple, clear and easy to use website that looks unappealing, it will have the same effect. Balancing aesthetic appeal with how people will actually use the website, called user experience or UX in the industry, is the most important role of the website designer.
Here are some of the aspects of user experience designers need to consider when designing a website.
Menus and other website navigation features are one of those elements that can look dated or clunky if designers aren’t clever with how they use them but, if they’re too clever, they risk making moving around the site difficult which is a real no-no for user experience. Fortunately, good designers know how to use icons, drop down menus and other devices to balance these two requirements to create beautiful and practical websites.
The trap some designers fall into is they use the most fantastic looking pictures, illustrations and icons they can that fit in with the company’s image but don’t really adequately show what the company does so visitors are left confused when they visit the site. As using professional photography is preferable to using stock images, if possible, the photos designers use need to be planned well in advance to look great but make it clear what the company is offering immediately as website users are notoriously impatient in this respect. It’s the same rule with infographics, illustrations and icons: if they aren’t clear, it doesn’t matter how good they look.
User experience is very aware of this impatience in website visitors and any copy on the website has to reflect the company’s brand and what they offer very quickly as people generally scan website text very quickly. Both style and function usually agree that less is more when it comes to text but, sadly, Google and other search engines tend to disagree. Smaller chunks of text with really effective concise headings are a way to balance these requirements and good designers can break up text in a way to make sure it’s clear but looks appealing and isn’t too onerous to read.
No sane person visits a website and thinks to themselves ‘well, this is a fabulous looking website, I’m definitely buying whatever they’re offering regardless of whether I’m convinced it’s what I’m looking for or not’ so it’s vital to balance style and function in all of the above elements. We take the time to really get to know our customers’ businesses and understand what their prospective customers are looking for on their website.
With this information, we can build websites with a user experience tailored to the needs of those potential customers alongside colours, pictures and design elements most likely to appeal to them.