4 Keys To a User-Centered Web Design
Gone are the days, if they ever existed, where a business checks a box—yes or no—if they have a company website. A website is not just a checklist requirement; it must be a powerful, purposeful, strategic, and appropriate tool. Instead of asking, “Do we have a website?” you need to ask, “Is our website focused on our users, and does it portray our brand properly, helping us achieve our business goals and aspirations?” If your first thoughts are, “Well, our site isn’t that bad,” take it from me: if it isn’t user-centered, then it is not just bad; it’s likely hurting your business and giving an advantage to the competition. And as we all know, the most valuable and well-known brands worldwide are design-led, like our client Practifi.
There is a clear path to fix a site that isn’t working for a business. To get your site working for you, you must make it user-centered. The first step is hiring a design partner that takes a user-centered approach. A user-centered website takes a close look at your target audience and understands their goals and challenges, as well as your business goals and brand aspirations. Then using this information to influence the site design and user flow and ensure it is optimized for usability, conversions, and search. At Propr, that’s all we do, and we would love the opportunity to do it for you. But first, let’s look at the key traits of a user-centered site.
If you struggle to identify your user’s goals, the Propr Brand Strategy Workshop is designed to help.
The Four Things to Focus On
- Responsive. A responsive website will adjust and adapt to all display and browser sizes, adjusting content accordingly. Remember that some content ideal for large monitors isn’t appropriate for a mobile device. We want to look at any data and user profile information to ensure our content is optimized and rendered properly for our visitors. If your website is not responsive mobile users will bounce, and Google and other search engines will penalize it heavily.
- Accessible. An accessible website is designed and built to ensure people with or without disabilities can still access the content and achieve the purpose of their visit. We take into consideration, through empathy, the challenges people may have using the website and work very hard to reduce and limit those challenges. Generally speaking, the design and development should pass accessibility testing. Not only is it good form, but they are common sense, like not relying on color for success, good grammar, semantic code that works without stylesheets, consistency in design and layout, color contrasts, font size, and more. If your website is not accessible, users will bounce, and Google and other search engines will penalize it heavily.
- Purpose. Clarify the purpose of your website. Is your site promoting your business or services and generating leads? Or are you selling goods online through an e-commerce website? Perhaps a both? Whatever the purpose is, reduce friction as much as possible to help your visitors accomplish their goals. With a clear purpose and following good design guidelines, your site will feature a clear hierarchy of calls to action that make progressing through your site simple and easy. Your forms will make sense and work great. And most importantly, your conversions will be very high. If your website has no clear purpose, users won’t get it, and you’re missing many opportunities. Need help with this stuff? Check out how we can help.
- Simplicity. A simple website is a good website. In fact, the simplest solution is the best solution but often the hardest to achieve (Occam’s Razor). Simple means it is easy to use, not confusing or overwhelming. Cognitive load theory states our short-term memory can only handle 7 (plus or minus 2) options simultaneously before we experience cognitive overload. This is why you offer seven or fewer options (we advocate for five or fewer) in a website’s navigation and why the menu at your local diner sucks because it is 17 pages. Simple also means a wonderful amount of whitespace (not to be confused with space) that helps people focus on the content and achieve the goals of visiting your site. Simple also means sophisticated, clean, and elegant in layout, typography, use of color, and aesthetics. Users will think poorly of your business if your website isn’t simple.
Responsive, accessible, purposeful, and simple is a solid recipe for a high-converting, user-friendly website that will work for your business. If your business website isn’t user-centered, the time is now to start working to change that. Listen to your target audience, Google, and me.
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With 24 years of creative experience in leadership, planning, and executing performance-based branding and web design strategies, Propr and I help small and medium-sized companies and organizations grow revenue, attract new customers, manage and scale their brands, and improve marketing performance.
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Propr is a boutique brand strategy and creative agency. We help companies and organizations grow through high-performing brand strategy, graphic & identity design, messaging & custom WordPress website design & development. Performance and results drive our passion for service. Let’s do great things for your brand together.
Ready to transform your brand for consistent and better performance? Contact us today!