If you are in the process of a website redesign or plan on creating a brand new website, make sure that you don’t follow these commonly held beliefs about UX and website usability.
UX stands for user experience and is often used interchangeably with the term “website usability”. In the world of website design, user experience often encompasses website usability. UX is more about making the end user have an enjoyable time while they browse, research, and purchase things on your website. Usability on the other hand lends itself to UX in the way that a transmission would lend itself to a car. Usability provides ways for your customers to accomplish what they came to do.
This statement couldn’t be any more wrong. Famous UX professionals often say design without the content is just decoration. What makes them say that? It’s for the same reason that you don’t buy the paper to admire how it’s folded. You buy it to read the articles.
Content should be the meat of your website and the design should be the bones.
There’s an old phrase in the digital world that says, “Content is King.” — and for good reason. Google has said time and time again that one of the largest of the 200 factors in ranking a webpage is the page’s content. If your website doesn’t have paragraphs of meaningful text, it may be time to re-evaluate your web strategy.
Made famous from pre-Keynesian economics, the old theory that people are rational is a completely off the mark. When it comes to UX design, it’s been proven over and over that people usually base decisions off of how they feel, not logic. This is exemplified by how people consume when the word “free” is used. People would much rather make a purchase that earned them a free item (let’s say valued at $50), than if they had made the same purchase that earned them a 50% discount off of something that costs $400. People often think in terms of relativity; they would much rather drive 30 minutes away to save $100 on an item that costs $250 than they would to save $100 on a $1000 item. If they were rational, they would realize that they were saving the exact same amount with the exact amount of drive time. The good part about people’s irrationality is that it can be predicted easily. When designing a website, engage in usability testing to see where your customers veer off the beaten path.
Depending on the tasks you want your customers to perform, usability testing can still remain relatively inexpensive. Steve Krug, author (and often considered the father of UX) to the book Don’t Make Me Think, says that using 3-4 participants can uncover the largest issues about a website with relative ease. It’s also believed that having participants in a moderated UX lab may be distracting, and therefore skew results. Unmoderated labs can be useful for specific inquiries about simple tasks.
Have you ever walked into a grocery store and immediately asked a manager where the bread, milk, and eggs are? No, you probably haven’t done that. (This example is another head nod to Steve Krug.) It’s been observed that website visitors only use the search bar when they can’t find what they’re looking for. Once you can’t find the eggs, you get the manager. Unless you’re heading to Amazon to find that specific pair of shoes you wanted, you’re probably going to navigate a site from link to link. This is what usability experts call “recognition over recollection”. It means that people will recognize the path they took before they remember exactly what phrase they put in the search bar last time. Studies show that 20% of people are link exclusive, meaning they are search bar haters. However, if your website is just a huge electronic inventory of books, music, movies, or video games, utilizing a search bar may be right for you.