1. Know your Audience
Getting to know your audience should be step 1 in all creative processes directed at enhancing business and user goals. What are their age groups? What gender makes up the majority? Where do they live? What information are they searching for? What visual aesthetics do they like? These answers will uncover a lot about what your users expect, and what you should be delivering. After all, your audience’s goals are your goals.
2. Habituality (don’t reinvent the wheel)
The web has been around for awhile, and certain behaviors have been instilled in your users mind. Habituality is the state of thinking and making decisions that is influenced by old habits. For example, users expect when they click on the logo of a website that they should be taken back to the home page, and more often than not they expect this logo to be in the upper left-hand corner. When designing it’s important to keep these habits in mind to make your interface simple to understand, and easy to navigate. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel, in most cases you’re better off sticking to the conventions that have already been established by years and years of behavioral habits. Your users shouldn’t be guessing what their next click will do. The less learning your users have to do, the better.
3. Gestalt Design
Gestalt is a psychology term which means, “unified whole.” The theories behind gestalt attempt to describe how people tend to organize visual elements into groups or unified wholes. In short, be consistent! In design, user interactions, and even language. Providing a consistent interface will enable your users to better understand how their interactions will work. In the end this creates more efficiency for your users to realize their goals, and yours.
4. Good visual Hierarchy
Visual hierarchy will direct users where you want them to go, and make completing their goals easier. This will tell users where the most relevant information on a page is, and separate the less important items. Visual hierarchy extends to elements sizes, spacing, color, contrast, alignment, proximity, repetition, white space, and much more.
5. Reward Users with Visual Feedback
It’s important to communicate to users that they are interacting with your interface correctly, and also show them when they’ve done so incorrectly. Visual cues and messaging show the user whether their interaction is producing the desired results. This can be applied in its simplest form as changing the visual styling of a button when the user hovers over it or even when the click on it. Show them that their interaction will produce a result, and in following the above rules of gestalt and habituality they will know what result this will produce.
This rule extends to each and every part of your interface and how it works. It’s all encompassing and should be kept in mind throughout your entire process. When adding features or styling ask yourself, “Does the user really need this?”, “Why is this information / action necessary?”, and “Will this make it easier or harder for the user to complete their goal.”
7. Call to Action
Calls to action are the stepping stones on the users users journey to completing their goals. These need to stand out (in a good way), and tell the user directly what action you want them to complete. These should be directed at yours and the users goals.
8. Be forgiving, no 2 users are the same (forgiving inputs)
While these rules will decrease the likelihood of users making mistakes, there are still instances where mistakes will happen. If your user makes an error it’s imperative that these actions don’t punish them. Educate them by providing clear and direct messaging on the error and why it happened. A good example is when users fill out a form, if they have filled out a field incorrectly tell them exactly how it’s filled out wrong, and how they can fix this error (as an added tip on forms, don’t make them start over after the error, keep their previous fields filled in).
To reach a broader audience you must accommodate user ability, experience, and device. This is very simple: if users can’t access your page, they can not complete the desired goals.
10. Analyze and Iterate
There is always room to improve your interface, but how will you know what areas of your interface need to be improved? Collect data on how users are interacting by doing user testing, heat-maps on where users are putting their mouse, collecting analytics, etc. Discovering the pitfalls of your interface and improving upon them will make completing your users’ goals easier. A websites ability to adapt and grow is important as consumers have more options and little time in a competitive marketplace. Pay attention to how they interact, what they expect, and you will create a greater user experience.
Momentum has worked with 250+ clients across several industries, we build websites with business and user goals in mind. If you’re ready to take the next step to improving how users use your website, or creating a new user-centered website, contact us to get started.