UX design: what is user experience and how to work on it?
What is UX design?
We don't go to the movies just for popcorn, just as amusement parks aren't just popular for souvenir gifts you can buy there. It is the experience here that interests us. A user experience that can also be found on websites, applications or software. The goal: to make an impression.
And that's exactly what UX design (or User eXperience design) helps you do: create a sensation, an experience, pleasant during the use of an interface or more generally during its physical or virtual interactions with a company.
Because even if the term UX is very often used in the development of website or application, it actually refers to all the contacts that an individual can maintain with a brand, whether physically or not.
To achieve this, you must work on your navigation, accessibility, design an ergonomic design... but not only! You must create a feeling, an emotion, on the user's side to fully satisfy him (example: compliance with delivery deadlines).
These elements must work together to offer a user experience that brings a positive feeling to the user in front of an offer. The goal is to create an intuitive, reliable, convenient, fast and enjoyable interface that meets the needs of users.
The UX design will help you in terms of the operation of your interface, making it as efficient as possible for an optimal experience! Let's take the example of a website. The UX will allow you to:
- Make it accessible and easy to use, through ergonomics, appearance and features that are simple and clear.
- To be able to adapt it to different digital media, whether it is a smartphone, a table or a large screen.
- Ensure reliability, by its use that reassures and the security elements put in place for Internet users.
But, you need to keep in mind that the experience and the feelings related to it are subjective, and are constantly evolving. The perception and past of each individual will inevitably have a sure influence on the use of an interface, such as a website.
And of course, a successful experience during a first visit can deteriorate afterwards: all it takes is a bad network preventing connection to an interface or a noisier environment that lacks light. This type of elements can quickly become an annoyance.
Where does the user experience come from?
Contrary to what one might think, the eXperience user is not that recent. It was in 1988 that the concept began to appear thanks to Donald Norman and his book entitled "The Design of Everyday Things" where he evokes the fact that design must be thought and built according to the user and his needs, and not in relation to companies and what they might think as relevant.
In 2002, the question of UX returned with "The Elements of User Experience" a work written by Jesse James Garrett presenting the five essential steps to set up an effective user experience:
- Strategy: Think about users without dismissing the objective of your company.
- Brakes: Be aware of any difficulties you may encounter.
- Structure: Organize your work in relation to the analysts performed.
- Framework: Define the guideline of your interface (wireframe).
- Surface: Make the final version of your site by adding visuals.
Among these five steps, it is crucial to always keep a UX vision, from the beginning of the project to the final realization of the interface. As soon as you have the specifications in hand, you can start thinking about the UX design of your site, application or software.
You will then have a well-defined framework by following these five steps to design your UX design. Obviously, it is up to you to adapt it according to your situation, your project and the constraints related to it such as planning or budget.
Sometimes the work can seem repetitive, sometimes you have to go back on certain elements before finding the most appropriate solution. But don't get discouraged, you'll only benefit you and your users!
What are the differences between UX design and UI design?
These two terms are sometimes confused. But these are two different areas, although complementary, because they do not have the same subject of study: UX design consists in observing and evaluating the feelings that users have towards an interface.
On the other hand, the UI (or User Interface) touches the graphic elements and represents the finished appearance of an interface. She will be concerned about the colors to choose, the typographies used, the structure of the elements, etc ... We are talking here about visual identity.
But the UI alone does not allow to design an optimal user experience. Indeed, a UI designer will only take into account the visual and aesthetic part of an interface. It must be pretty, attracted visitors and consistent with the company.
Next to it, UX design is a work intended to improve the user experience while taking into account the elements of the UI but also the structure, user research, analysis, content, accessibility, etc ... It is the UX that feeds on the UI.
💡 Namely: UX is a discipline dealing with user research and its analysis with a view to offering the best possible user experiences. The designer will take care of the creative part of the project and add the graphic elements.
Some people only specialize in UX, and only touch the research, testing and evaluation part of the data. While the UX designer will think about the user experience by integrating the design part into the process.
Conclusion, the UX UI designer have a relationship of complementarity, they fit into each other. However, the UI will always need to be complemented by the UX, without it it is not possible to create an interface designed to meet the needs of users.
Why work on your user experience?
Knowing that 7 out of 10 Internet users will not return to a website if their first visit was not a great success, we say to ourselves that working on UX is essential if we want to convert and retain as many prospects as possible! And for this, the user must keep a pleasant memory of his visit on your interface.
Concretely, UX design will study the motivations of users. And how to meet their expectations. The objective is to understand their needs and provide them with solutions in relation to the data collected, in order to gain:
- A better conversion rate,
- A better SEO,
- A more appropriate brand image,
- And more effective customer loyalty.
In addition, you will be able to better understand your users, so that they can quickly take control of the interface and understand what you expect from them. Otherwise, it may quickly leave your site, application or software, which will impact your conversion rate. And we don't want that!
You must therefore constantly keep in mind the UX elements to be integrated at each stage of your project as well as ensure that design and user experience are an integral part of your acquisition strategy.
On the one hand, it will help you reduce the risk of failure and avoid an expensive redesign. And on the other hand, you'll be able to decrease the bounce rate by identifying why visitors are leaving your site. You will thus increase your sales and your market share: a significant return on investment. While improving the satisfaction of your customers!
10 tips to work on the UX of your website
- Think user
Identifying your buyer persona and getting to know your target is the first step to any good strategy. For your interface to meet user expectations correctly, you must be attentive to the slightest remarks and opinions.
It must provide positive emotions to your visitors and give them answers to their problems. With this in mind, do not hesitate to inquire via social networks, blogs, forums, etc ... You will be able to gather valuable information.
By knowing their age, their social class, their profession, their center of interest, etc... You will be able to design a project that suits them. Each page should be designed according to and for your users:
- Colors: be careful not to scatter too much.
- Typography: a readable font and not too small.
- Vocabulary: the tone you want to use.
- Animations: without de abusing them so as not to disturb the user.
- Visuals: to capture the attention of your visitors.
- Icons: visible and useful for the understanding of the user.
- Get to the basics
Honestly, do you manage to stay focused long enough on a screen to capture all the information on it? I don't. So, you have very little time to convince a visitor to take an interest in your offer!
That's why it's important to get to the point by talking about your missions and what you can bring to your potential customers. You must visibly display important information about your interface.
But be careful not to overload your pages. What matters here is that your users can quickly understand the message you want to convey to them. To do this, you can use white spaces, which will highlight your content and elements. Your visitors will then have an easier time reading you and assimilating your message.
Also make sure that your colors and animations are appropriate and do not disturb visitors in their reading.
- Respect a hierarchy
It is necessary to set up a hierarchy between your different elements, at the risk that your users get lost among your content. This is to establish a size for your different texts and visuals according to the importance you give them.
Let's take an example. You will never put the title of a page and a paragraph in equal size. It's logical!
But when you have a lot of elements to display on your interface, it's not easy to create a harmonious and understandable space. The idea is then to prioritize the information: first / secondary / optional, etc ...
And to properly differentiate this information, it is necessary to use different sizes / shapes / styles of typography, different colors, different locations, etc... And try to play on the visuals (sizes, saturation, shapes, etc ...).
- Facilitate navigation
Your project must be built in a logical way if you want to capture the attention of your visitors. They should not get lost in the meanders of your interface and be able to return to bond port when needed. In short, they need to be able to navigate easily.
The goal is not for them to end up with a multitude of open pages without being able to find what they are desperately looking for. You'll end up with confused visitors and an ugly bounce rate.
Browsing your site is the way for your users to achieve the goal they had set for themselves and find the answer to their needs. It must therefore help users to move easily and quickly on your interface.
That's also why menus exist! It is in a way your checkpoint, it allows you to redirect visitors to your different pages.
- Optimize loading speed
Loading speed is also an important criterion in the field of UX. Today, consumers want everything right away. You can imagine that a page that takes more than a few seconds to load, it will not pass.
On the contrary! You risk losing your visitors, who will prefer to go and inquire, and at the same time buy, elsewhere. Especially since they are not likely to return to your interface anytime soon if it has not satisfied them in terms of experience.
So what about such an experience? Your users may get annoyed, they may have the best connections, but an interface that is not optimal will have a much longer loading time. But solutions exist:
- opt for a qualified host,
- reduce the size of your visuals,
- optimize your animations,
- simplify your code, etc...
And if you want to check for yourself the loading speed of your site, Google offers a tool specially designed for this purpose: PageSpeed Insights.
- Add links and CTAs
A CTA (or Call To Action) is a strategically placed call-to-action button, most often on a website. Their purpose is to tell visitors what to do: subscribe to a newsletter, request a demonstration, make an appointment, etc...
The goal is to convert your prospects into leads. Because you may have a beautiful interface in accordance with your graphic charter and a worked user experience, if your calls to action are poorly thought out, you will not have the expected results.
Links are also essential to your interface: they will allow your users to navigate with a single click. As a bonus: you can add as many as you want.
However, keep in mind that although external links and inbound links are very important, you should not neglect your internal mesh. But overall, you have free quarter regarding the insertion of links.
- Handle 404 errors
We do not think about it often enough, put the 404 page is an important element to take into account so that your user experience is optimal. Indeed, if it takes you to want to delete a page from your interface on which users wanted to go, they will necessarily land on a 404 page.
Unfortunately, if it is not sufficiently thought out and worked, you will lose visitors and potential prospects. So bet everything on this page! The most important thing is to guide your users to another page that may be of interest to them.
For example, if a visitor clicks on a blog post but comes across a 404 error, feel free to highlight a call to action to get them to read another article related to the topic they are interested in.
The interest of a 404 page is to influence users to take other paths if the one initially planned is no longer relevant.
- Create a responsive web interface
Today, many of your users will visit your interface via a smartphone or tablet. To facilitate their user experience, it is essential that your project is designed responsive web so that it can adapt to different screen formats.
If your interface is not suitable for small formats, your users will be dissatisfied with the user experience offered. You must therefore think that all your elements can be responsive (menu, visuals, texts, etc ...).
A worked and functioning user experience must take into account the different possible media.
- Maintain your footers
Imagine. You find THE perfect outfit for your date, but you don't have the right shoes. What a pity, you will not make a very good impression. For an interface, the idea is the same. Its design may be perfect, but if the footer is overlooked, you will make a bad impression.
The goal is to give navigation cues to your users to improve their experience by adding links to your important pages, such as the contact page. Indeed, it would be a shame if your visitors could not get in touch with you before leaving your site.
You must therefore display your contact information (email, address and telephone). These are essential elements to achieve conversion of your visitors and make it easier for them to access you and your business.
- Research and test
We will always come back to it: the user. The UX approach is built on the basis of data and statistics. They will help you optimize your interface and build the most optimal user experience!
With the objective of finding the problems / needs of your visitors and what will work best for your project, you can set up several tests:
- A/B testing: a method to try two variations for a product or service to find out which one would be best. By testing different ergonomics, layout, features, etc... You will be able to compare your ideas.
- Heatmap: the objective here is to record the screen of your users and analyze their navigations. Thus, you will be able to observe the brakes and obstacles that block your visitors and solve them quickly.
- User tests: User tests allow you to observe visitors' behaviors in front of your interface and with a pre-established scenario.
Testing your solution is one of the five phases of design thinking (define, imagine, synthesize, prototype, test). It is essential to achieve an ideal user experience.