User experience

30th March 2016
News and Insights

How to offer a great user experience on your website

If your website delivers a great user experience it’s bound to be more successful. Without considering UX, there’s very little hope of reaching significant business goals.

What is user experience?

It’s hard to define. But it’s not something that you create –that’s really down to each individual user. You can only work towards making a good user experience possible. And to do this, you need to give users the tools to interact with your business simply and effectively.

The bottom line is, whoever you’re targeting, your website is designed for your users. Your website is often a customer’s first impression of your brand. So it should speak the right language and look the part. But it also has to be accessible and personalised for their specific needs and preferences. If it doesn’t appeal to them or isn’t easy to use, they’ll go elsewhere. Simple as that.

From the home page to the FAQ’s, good user experience lets users get exactly what they came for. So they won’t have to call your support line for help or lose their way on the purchase path. Designing your website with UX in mind will help you reduce costs and see significant ROI.

Best practice for creating a good user experience

It’s important to remember that creating a good user experience isn’t just down to the UX experts. The UX team enable good user experience, but your business has to deliver it. All the visual design stuff is just the tip of the iceberg. Good user experience design has to venture a little deeper.

With that in mind, we asked our UX team for their best practice guidelines. When building a Sitecore website, they focus on:

  • Clear navigation: Your users should be able to travel through your site easily. Search, signposting and breadcrumbs all help to lead users through your site and let them know where they are. No one likes to feel lost or out of place!
  • Content led design: Your website design needs to accommodate all your content across different devices and multi-lingual versions. Design shouldn’t hinder content, but support it.
  • Consistent user experience across devices: Your website needs to be accessible on any device. We think ‘mobile first’ to make sure your design is compatible for mobile users. This also helps maintain focus on other devices like tablets, desktops, games consoles and SMART TV’s.
  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG): Follow guidelines and industry standards to make content accessible, particularly for impaired users and users with highly limited devices.
  • HTML: Good code is an essential starting point to any website project. Code that is too complex or doesn’t follow best practice standards will create future problems, making it difficult to upgrade your site.
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): Optimise content so that it’s easily found through search engines.
  • UX personas: Know who your audience are and what they want from your site. UX personas focus your website on the users’ needs, ensuring visitors are satisfied. Empathy is a big deal to UX designers. Getting in the users’ heads is crucial.
  • Consistent design patterns: Everything from your font to your page layout and interaction should be consistent. Consistency promotes a positive brand experience.
  • Define a purpose for each page: Every website page type needs a logical purpose and the design should reflect this. For example, blog pages are intended to be engaging and sharable, whereas product pages aim to increase sales.
  • Ask for feedback and act on it: Feedback, good or bad, will help create a good user experience. Encourage feedback from your users. Just make sure you listen and take action to make improvements.
  • Page speed: Performance debt will affect the speed of the site. Make sure that code and content is optimised for optimum page speed. Slower page speeds mean unhappy users who bounce straight back to search engine results.
  • Consider culture and region: Personalisation for different regions and languages will help your site be accessible to wider audiences.
  • User generated content: Reviews and ratings reassure users and reinforce benefits to the user. This can improve conversion rates. Make it easy for customers to quickly leave reviews and ratings.
  • Underlying Information Architecture (IA): Quite simply, IA needs to be spot on. The structuring and hierarchy of your content, data sources and site maps should be rational and simple. If it’s not, you’re likely to have real issues with your site and users will struggle to complete tasks.

Two user experience models that help

There are many models that can help guide you when considering user experience. Two popular user experience models that we use are Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Jesse James Garrett’s design principles.

Maslow’s hierachy of needs (in relation to User Experience)

This model highlights the importance of different UX design aspects. At the base of the pyramid we’ve got purpose. Understanding the point of your product or service for users drives good user experience. As we work our way up, we consider what our design really needs. Purpose, function, clarity and usability are essentials for good user experience. To push ourselves further, we work towards making websites enjoyable for users too.

Garrett’s design principles

 This model is one of the driving forces behind our pre-build phase of a projectOur in-depth Discovery process helps us establish your UX personas and wider business goals. Once we know what you want and what your customers want, we work our way up from the basics. We use information from pre-build to fuel the entire build. That way we can be sure that everything we’re doing is purposeful. And we can check that our customers are happy at each stage. So there is method to our madness.

How we make sure our projects follow a good user experience approach

Our approach to website design combines UX and visual design at a basic level. With both in mind, we create wireframes and build your site upwards. Wireframes help us to map out a website build and make sure it’s functional, with a solid structure. But also that it has the right information and attracts the right audience.

We aim for a completely adaptive, responsive design so you can meet every users’ needs and create a good user experience. We’ve designed enterprise level sites that deliver good user experience for a number of customers, including Formica, British Gypsum, Fairtrade and Welsh Water.

If you want to know more about building great customer experiences or our approach to enterprise website design, check out our blogs. If you’re looking to improve your website’s user experience or find out how we can help with your next project, get in touch.