User experience design or “UX” is understanding the needs and goals of users and creating interfaces that meet those needs in the most effective and efficient way possible.
Good User Experience
- Anticipates the needs of the user
- Keeps the user aware of where they are at all times
- Makes it easy to find and understand content
- Provides a consistent experience in all contexts
Bad User Experience
- Makes people feel like they are working to get what they want
- Does not visually respond to the action users take
- Forces users to look at things they didn’t want to see
- Feels incomplete or broken
User Experience Concerns
Who is a website for? Knowing your audience is a very important consideration that should inform many decisions you make about design and content. This might affect the colors, tone, imagery, font size, or the complexity of navigation. What are the needs of your audience and how can you address them?
It’s important for visitors to always know where they are on a website. Page titles, breadcrumbs, and current page highlighting in the navigation are common ways to achieve this. It’s equally important that users always know how to navigate to content that interests them.
Friction is anything that makes it harder for users to find what they are looking for or do something on a website. Does a form have too many fields? Does it take too many clicks to get to a page? Are there too many popups? Reducing friction is a critical concern when designing a site.
No font on a website should be smaller than 14px and 16px – 18px is conventional. You don’t want to make people lean toward the screen or need reading glasses. Also, font choice has a lot to do with legibility. Paragraph text should always be a sans-serif font that feels very easy to read.
When designing and building a website it’s important to make sure that it can be used by people with disabilities. Relative font sizes, image alt tags, input labels, role and aria attributes, and good color contrast should be considered.
Whenever you click something on a website there should be some visual feedback indicating that something has happened. Buttons should have a hover and active state. Forms should let you know that they were submitted. A lot of user frustration can be prevented this way.
While complex animations, unique design systems, and image rich designs can be compelling and fun, they can also confuse people less familiar with the internet. It’s important to aim for a clean and simple user interface.
You want all parts of your website to look and work the same. If buttons are red on one page they shouldn’t be blue on another. If inputs are round in one place they shouldn’t be square elsewhere. A good design should be very consistently applied across all parts of a site.
If something goes wrong on your site you want visitors to know it. Having a clear 404 page is important. If a form doesn’t work when submitted, a clear error message should be displayed. If login doesn’t work, visitors shouldn’t feel confused about it.