User Experience (UX) is a field of design and functionality that focuses on how the user of an item interacts and experiences that item or element of the item. This article will discuss websites specifically, but this item can be anything from a website, a document, an app, or any physical object that is offered to consumers.
This field has multiple elements that contribute to usability and design.
First, the item should be easy-to-use and work well with little to no errors. No one wants to use a broken website; thus users will avoid them. You don’t use what you don’t like. Next, the item should be designed so that users find it nice to look at and appealing to use. If a room looks pretty, people will want to go into them. The same is true of websites.
Finally, the elements of the site should be finable and accessible to consumers. Users should be able to locate the item easily and without help. If users can’t find a page or button, they definitely won’t read or use it. People with disabilities should be remembered for this: will this page read well for the deaf? Is this text readable to the colorblind? Don’t forget mobile users either! All of the above (and beyond) are consumers that need to be planned for.
Making elements more attractive to users
The first impression can be the most important thing about something or someone. Websites are no exception. The average user will get an impression of a website in seven seconds or less. In some cases, it takes about 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) for users to form a bad opinion of a web site. According to Kinesisinc.com, first impressions of websites are 94% design-related. Yikes! It doesn’t get much better past the first impression stage. Kinesisinc.com goes on to say that 75% of consumers judge a businesses’ credibility based on their website design.
The design and how users perceive it will make or break a website. This is why UX is sometimes called UX design.
Making components organized
You’ve got the user’s attention by making a good web design. Now, can they find anything? Are all the individual pages in the header menu so users have to sift-through all of the sites pages to find what they were looking for? Do all the pages all have similar titles? Like many parts of this field, organization is something you notice if done wrong, not when done right (in which case users will use it without noticing it).
The basics of organization is to group things that are like each other and separate them from other groups. In a well-organized website, there is a menu with 3-5 tabs and only a few drop down menus, and all pages have clear, easy-to-understand titles (no jargon, please) and follow web-expected UI components.
People just don’t want to take long to get things done. If users have to click more than five times to find something, they will get frustrated. When something frustrates people, they won’t want to use it, so they won’t.
Users expect speedy websites, and Google knows this; Google is designed to show users websites that they want, and websites that load and can be used fast are at the top of their lists. According to Google, a 1-3 seconds load time increases the bounce rate (the amount of users that leave the website after only seeing one page) probability by 32%, and a 1-5 seconds load time increases the bounce rate probability by 90%. Yikes! This is particularly bad on mobile, which can load slower by default, not good when more than half of people on the web are on mobile.
Making things more fun!
There are some things that are never going to be ‘fun’ like renewing your driver’s license or scheduling a doctor’s appointment. That does not mean that the process of doing it has to make it harder or even more frustrating. If the user can get in, ‘do what needs to be done’, and get out in minutes, they will be ambivalent to the site rather than angry.
If the consumer can be entertained or even find joy when using a product, then all the better for them and the site.
UX vs. UI
User interface (UI) is what users interact with, like pages, links, buttons, and pictures/graphics. UX is a very large field and includes the design of the UI, but it is not limited to it.
For example, a web designer can put together both the ‘contact us’ form and the link to the company’s email to receive that form. Both is UX. The form is a form of UI as well as the email that the company received and (hopefully) read; however, the code that made the link between the two is not. It still is UX since how fast and how well the form was sent and arrived are a part of user experience, even if the users did not interact with it.
UI focuses on the look of the website, and UX focuses on how the site works.