What’s your top priority when it comes to designing your website?
If it isn’t user experience, you might need to think again.
Websites are all about effectively communicating with an audience, and a well-designed user interface can make or break that communication.
An overall, wide-ranging view of the user experience on your website will take into account not just the goal of your site itself, such as to market and sell a product. It will also account for the details of what the user wants, needs, and expects from the site.
With that goal to aim for, let’s take a look at five different visual elements that can elevate your website’s UX from good to great.
Include Video Content
This is the first element on the list for a good reason.
Video content is already a huge aspect of effective website design, and it’s ever growing. Statistics indicate that more and more people expect websites to incorporate video content, and have broken down the most effective ways to include video in order to reach and engage with more individuals.
Video content attracts from two to three times as many visitors to a website on a monthly basis. And on average, an internet user will spend up to 88% more time on a site which includes video content.
Not only that, but video is more effective both for the designer of the website and for the audience member who is watching it, with statistics saying that viewers can capture and retain 95% of a message in a video, as compared to just 10% when reading the same message in static text.
So video content makes sense on every level. It’s more useful to you as a website designer because it helps with engagement, retention, and ultimately action. And it’s an important part of the website’s user experience, in that your audience will click, watch, and remember the information much more readily.
And the fact that the average user expects there to be video content goes a long way to show that video should really be a visual element that is included on your website as a matter of course.
Effective Color Palette
We’ve all seen boring, drab, or just plain ugly websites. Often, it isn’t so much the design of the website itself that makes you go, “Eww.” It’s frequently the fault of poor color choices.
Of course, to a certain extent, color is in the eye of the beholder. Not all of us look at colors the same way, and not all of us feel the same emotions based on the color in front of us.
But the psychology of color is an entire school of thought and research based around the fact that we do tend to have certain reactions to certain colors. Colors can trigger emotions, soothe anxiety, stimulate creativity, and motivate the viewer to action.
With all that capability, effective color palettes should definitely be an integral part of your website’s UX.
The psychology of color might take a little research and investigation to be used effectively. And each aspect of your website design, from the inclusion of your logo to your “About Us” section, falls under scrutiny for the principles of color choice in design.
Put very basically, though, colors like red and orange tend to be warmer, stimulating colors that can provoke strong reactions from the viewer.
Colors like blue and green are calmer, promoting a feeling of peace and stability.
Other colors, such as gray, are both calm and neutral, meaning that they generally play well with others when used side by side in a website’s overall palette.
And a palette should really be rather limited, to keep the viewer from feeling confused by the rainbow of colors presented along with the actual informational content on the site.
Color is an important UX design decision because the psychology of color requires that we take into account how our colors will make our audience feel. And in the end, effective use of color can decide whether your viewer continues to visit your website, or whether it just leaves them saying, “Eww.”
Nothing quite draws the attention and stimulates engagement like an interactive element included on a website.
One of the best examples that I’ve come across is the mini dinosaur game hidden on the page that shows up when Google Search is offline. It’s simple, it’s a little addictive, and it’s there to mitigate the frustration you’ll inevitably feel from not being able to have information at your fingertips.
Most importantly, it manages to create engagement and a good UX even when the site itself has nothing to offer.
This isn’t to say that we should design with the thought that our users are going to be frustrated by the site. To the contrary, we can use interactive elements to boost engagement and fend off frustration, maybe even entirely.
Interactive elements can cover a wide range of possibilities, from pop-up windows with information for the user, to brief forms such as one to get their email or tell them about a promotion, to highlighting links or certain words when they hover over them, or even just a specialized cursor graphic.
Any and all of these design possibilities can increase engagement and enhance user experience.
Pairing effective image choice with the content and information on your website boost the UX a crazy amount.
This is largely because, much as is the case with video content, internet users expect there to be visuals. Sites that include images can lead to up to 650% higher engagement than those that are text only.
And you really only have to look at the top social media platforms to see where the trends are. Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat are all formed around visual content and photographs.
So including images on your site is a basic pillar of functional UX. But not just any images will do.
Web design experts suggest using visual content that was created for your site, rather than simply relying on stock photos. This enables you to illustrate your point in a bespoke way, rather than having to bend content to fit.
Of course, good design requires that the designer ensure that photos and images are properly sized and placed so as to enhance and not distract from the content.
It’s also a good idea to include content in a visual form, such as in specially-created infographics. Marketing research indicates that users are 80% more likely and willing to read information that is contained in a visual form, such as an infographic.
And since 90% of the information that we process in our brain is visual, and 65% of people are visual learners, using images and infographics can enhance UX for the majority of your viewers.
User Friendly Navigation
“User friendly” is a phrase that we want applied to every aspect of our website, especially when we’re talking about the user experience to begin with. So why is it so important when discussing the site navigation?
Because we have all had the experience — especially if we were around when the internet was young and website UX design wasn’t really a thing yet — of going to a website and not being able to find what we were looking for. Whether that was because the navigation was poorly designed, broken, or just nonexistent to begin with, the end result was the same: frustration, and backing right back out of the site without finding what we came there for.
So creating a navigation system that is both attractive and functional is absolutely vital for a good UX.
And website menus don’t have to be run of the mill. There are some interesting trends in designing navigation that still manage to be user friendly while also being a little bit extra when it comes to the visual appeal.
Navigation should also contribute to the organic flow of the website, leading the user to the next step on their journey. What that step is really depends on the nature of the site itself, but navigation should be constructed with the overall goal in mind.
Designing For Optimized User Experience
These are just five elements of visual design that should place high on your list when it comes to compiling your website. Remember, the user experience will make or break the effectiveness of your site; and the effectiveness of your site may be what makes or breaks your business or organization.
It isn’t really enough just to create something that is functional. For optimum UX, it’s important to always consider how you can go the extra mile.
It’s a saying in business that the “customer is always right.” That isn’t any less true when it comes to website design.
Keep your customers in mind and aim for an awesome user experience on your website, and you could just end up with a success story of your own.