Designing an effective and engaging graphical user interface (GUI) that will help your digital presence to shine in today’s competitive online marketplaces is a much more involved process than you...
Although this might sound like an overstatement, user centred design can define the long-term success of your business.
OK, well, let’s jump straight in and start with this. Adopting a user centred approach as early in the design process as possible will help you to ensure that every single person involved with the creation, development and marketing of your digital presence, are focused on what the audience wants and not what they ‘think’ the audience wants.
But why is this so important?
One of the primary requirements of web designing with a hyper-focused, user centred purpose is that it needs a carefully considered User Experience (UX) strategy to produce an effective final product. This UX strategy will mitigate the risks of individuals coming into the project with potentially conflicting ideas and initiatives, or relying on assumptions and opinions to make decisions.
If you have a clear understanding of your audience and what is important to them it helps focus what might feel an overwhelming design and development project.
This is critical because, let’s face it, creating a powerful website or application with the ability to help your business to achieve some of your core objectives can sometimes feel like an impossible task. But it doesn’t have to feel this way. And it won’t if you make sure that every decision you make has the best interests of your end users in mind.
OK, so now we’ve established that user centred design is seriously important, let’s run through some more reasons why this is the case and how this unique design process will help your business to survive, thrive and flourish. Yes, even in the ultra-competitive marketplaces we see today.
Sound good? Let’s go.
User centered design delivers improved performance
We’ve all visited those websites that throw up bizarre and unexpected errors every time we attempt to click through to a new page, try to engage with a chatbot, or fruitlessly search for contact information that might help us to actually obtain the information we’re looking for. It’s a frustrating experience that frankly doesn’t do very much for our levels of trust or confidence in that business.
The reality is that no one has time to battle with a site that resolutely refuses to deliver the information we expected to find so easily. Sometimes errors might be considered to be on the part of the user and by that we mean the information might be there somewhere, just not in the most logical or easy to find locations. But with user centred design, those ‘user errors’ simply don’t exist because the entire site has been created to meet the expectations of a very specific audience.
What does this mean exactly?
Well, it means that every feature and every piece of content will be found in a location that the user will expect to find it in. Not only does this make the entire website infinitely easier to use, but there is little to no learning curve required on the part of the user because everything will feel intuitive.
And what effect does this intuitiveness have?
Websites that function in simple and anticipated ways are enjoyable to engage with because we don’t need to fight with them to extract the information we're there to find.
And, helpfully, this leads us on to our next point, which is:
User centered design will enhance the credibility of your business
This might be a bold claim to make but, frankly, it’s the truth. If your users are satisfied with the experience your website has delivered, they are going to feel more confident in your ability to:
- provide them with valuable information
- provide them with a product and/or service that will positively enhance their life
- effectively address any concerns or issues that might arise, now or in the future
Not only will your site be in the best possible position to communicate to your audience that you are a trustworthy business with a lot of positive things to offer, but your visitors are going to be more likely to refer friends, family and their social followers to your website if they have had consistently good experiences.
Again, this point leads us seamlessly into the next thing we wanted to touch upon, which is:
User centered design will deliver increased exposure for your business
So, clearly all that referral traffic that you will be lapping up thanks to your audience’s positive experiences with your website will deliver additional exposure, but you’ll see your exposure increase in a variety of other ways too.
Sounds great, so how exactly will this increased exposure occur?
User centred websites deliver positive user experiences consistently, which means that it is more likely that your visitors will return again and again. And remember, if they’re repeatedly coming to you, this means that they are not turning to one of your competitors. Nurturing brand loyalty is essential in competitive marketplaces, especially because in today’s social media-driven world, recommendations and social shares carry a lot of clout.
OK, all that social exposure sounds excellent. But what about search?
Well, in addition to more social media exposure, user centred websites also typically rank much better in search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords, search terms and phrases.
Why? Well, it has got a lot to do with the fact that search engines want to serve their users with the best possible hyper-relevant and user-friendly results.
If search engine crawlers find lots of positive signs that your website has prioritised your users and is committed to delivering relevant and valuable information in accessible and intuitive ways, you are going to be rewarded with a solid ranking position in search. Which again, is essential in today's hyper-competitive digital space.
User centered design alleviates resource burden
If every member of your team knows exactly what they need to do to contribute effectively to a powerful final design that meets the requirements and expectations of your audience, you’re going to save a lot of time and money during the development process.
Well, for one there won’t be any toing and froing or “what if we did this instead” because everything will have already been thoughtfully planned and detailed in your overall strategy.
With this method of design, it is also possible to conduct some testing with end-users before things become too complex or costly to address. This is particularly valuable because you will be doubly reassured that the correct decisions have been made and that you have done everything possible to ensure that your website will really deliver.
Also, if all that wasn’t enough…
Having such a comprehensive plan in place before you and your team really roll up your sleeves and dive into the development process will also reduce maintenance and redesign costs. You will already know that everything will work seamlessly and there won’t be any superfluous elements that compromise the flow or functionality of your design.
Oh, and we're not done here yet…
All of these good things come before we even begin to delve into the decreased support and training related costs. Because, well, when everything works seamlessly, is intuitive and highly user-friendly, support and training are two things that you won’t really need to worry too much about. Or even at all, really.
User centered design delivers increased sales and conversions
Alright, so we’re beginning to reach the end of this article but we have saved one of the most important benefits of good web design for last: it’ll help you to secure even more of those all-important sales and conversions.
How so, we hear you ask? Let’s take a look.
To earn and retain a competitive place in your marketplace, your website needs to deliver a seamless experience to your users. By involving them in the design process itself, you know that this is one box you have well and truly ticked. This, combined with the positive reputation your website means that your ideal audience will be more likely to turn to you instead of your competitors.
The consistently great experiences you will be able to deliver means that your brand loyalty will increase and all those first-time customers you managed to secure can be successfully converted into highly loyal, repeat customers. And we’re sure that you don’t need us to tell you that this means plenty of increased revenue opportunities that you can capitalise on.
Oh, and one final thing here . . .
Remember that referral traffic we mentioned earlier? Delving into the analytics information here might give you some ideas for new products or ways to expand your offerings and extend your core audience to secure even more additional revenue.
So, before we end here, let’s just pause for a moment to recap the primary 5 advantages of web design with a user centred focus:
1. Your website will perform well and deliver consistency to each user
2. Your website will help to enhance the overall credibility and image of your business
3. Your website will generate additional exposure for your brand
4. You’ll see increased sales and cement your business as a leading player in your niche
5. Your website won’t be as much of a burden on your time, money or resources
So, user centred web design is essentially the gift that keeps on giving, which is why it really will pay to put your users first.