UX is one of the most important aspects of a project, but it’s often looked at as the least. Visual design steals most of the love, and it’s understandable why. Visual design is the actual face of your brand. It’s what people see, and that directly influences how customers and clients think of your company. However, you can’t have a visual design without an plan. This is where UX comes in.
User Experience (UX) Design is part of the design process. However, UX is more focused on the overall experience than just the look of the site. UX involves designing and planning an experience and creating a workflow for the users of a website or app (or any piece of technology really).
UX is the skeleton to your body. UX is the reason why you can’t just make a website. You need to do a ton of research and planning to figure out what you need, where things should go, and what it should say. This planning is important for a number of reasons.
A big part of UX is discovery. This involves interviewing main stakeholders to learn about the project at hand. In interviewing the heads of Sales, Marketing, Creative, CEOs, CTOs, CFOs, etc, you will learn as much as you can about every aspect of the company. The most important part of this is getting these different perspectives. It is the job of a UX designer to note this various feedback and plan accordingly. Often times, these different areas have different goals, though they can also overlap. These goals then directly play into the site structure, content, and audience.
Once you figure out your goals, you can focus on your audience. The best way to do this is to research your customer base, and create personas. Personas are fictional embodiments of the real people that use your website. A website can have multiple personas, and each persona can (and should) have different backgrounds, personalities, needs, and end goals. These are helpful because it allows you to segment your audience, and figure out what you need to do in order to provide the best possible experience that will allow them to meet their goals, engage with the site, and eventually convert into a sale or lead. The true success of the site comes when you figure out how to make both users and stakeholders happy.
Knowing your goals and your audience will allow you to figure out exactly what people are looking for when they visit your site. This information will influence both your site map, and page structure.
In knowing what people are looking for, you can create engaging and relevant content. You can’t just slap a decent looking design up and call it a day. The real reason that people go to websites (well most business websites anyway) is because they are looking for some kind of information. This is why content is so important. If your audience doesn’t get something helpful out of your site, they will definitely find it elsewhere.
Your website content involves essentially two things. First is voice and tone. This is essentially HOW you talk to people. Are you fun and playful, intelligent and informative, wordy or straight to the point? This directly relates to branding, and how people see your company.
Content also involves WHAT you say. This may seem easy, but it is somewhat of an art form. People have shorter and shorter attention spans, and more and more options. With this in mind, you need to engage people quickly, and get them the information they need without hesitation. This is more than just paragraph text too. It involves intuitive headlines, buttons, icons, and even meta data (the stuff hidden in the code).
All of this planning isn’t for nothing. If done right, your site can have a lasting impact. Making smart choices based off of research will give your site a longer shelf life than if you just toss something together. And if you chose to do iterative design, you can learn from your decisions and site performance, and make continuous improvements, rather than focusing on one expensive redesign after another.
By doing the research and planning, you can create a website that works for both your customers and organization. If you know your customers, create engaging content, and provide a good service, everything should fall into place. When this happens, you will get a big return on all of the time and effort that went into building your site.
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