Website design is always evolving to keep pace with innovations, devices and applications.
Knowing when and how to upgrade your website can be confusing. Just because a feature is new or popular doesn’t mean it’s beneficial or even necessary. Like many other design-driven fashions, website features often come and go within a year or two.
I remember finding parallax scrolling mesmerizing. But after using it a bit, I didn’t like the annoying way it controlled my experience. The visual excitement wore off quickly.
Instead of fashion, let UX (user experience) guide your redesign decisions.
It’s easy to forget that computers and software are guided by coded machine languages––“1011000101.” They don’t speak human.
In the 1990s, user-centered design pioneers, like Alan Cooper, opened web developers’ eyes to the human being on the other side of the interface. They created evaluation processes to understand and refine computer/human interfaces, giving us the digital world we live in today.
UX is the evolution of user-centered design. It’s more comprehensive in its approach. Instead of merely making the machine and human fit together, UX begins with the user’s needs and designs the machine toward the user’s experience.
UX design looks past the technology (both hardware and software), even past the content, to what is happening with/to the user. Designers interrogate the entire process with questions about:
- Expectations––What does the user want from the experience?
- Situation––When and where and on what devices do users access the website?
- Ergonomics––How does the design maximize or accommodate the human body?
- Culture––How does the user’s identity, community and experience influence their interactions?
- Psychology––What does mind/brain science tell us about screen interactions?
- Environment––How does your site, its processes and output effect the environment?
Technology’s gravitational pull is toward the machine and away from the human. Good UX resists making people conform to machines. Good UX cares less about what is technically possible than it does about what’s best. Good UX creates a synthesis between users’ needs and the machine’s capabilities.
In 2022, good UX has become the standard for good website design. It’s front and center in many design publications and design presentations. This is good news.
Conducting an exhaustive UX study, based on highly-researched user data and involve many tiers of modeling, testing and redesign, is very cumbersome and very expensive.
It’s more feasible and realistic to begin with a solid understanding of an organization’s goals and audience. With that understanding as a foundation, we can recommend design features that are proven, tested and will add value to both the user and the organization. Many of the features in use today have been developed using UX principles and they are being constantly refined.
Over the next few months, we will look more closely at important UX features, learn how they work and how they can improve a website.
Here are other articles in this series:More Ideas