Our Favorite UX Principles
Four Usability Principles We Lean On
Usability is the ultimate goal of our work and there are many design and psychological principles for us to take into account to achieve it. To describe a few as our “favorite” might seem a bit weird, but there are a number principles that are really universal to the work we do, no matter the characteristics of the client’s user base. I wanted to take a hot minute in this post to go over a few of the UX principles we lean on the most.
Aesthetics Do Matter
The reality is that aesthetics are not only evocative and helpful to guiding a user’s eye around the site, but they also foster a sense of trust in the site and the brand behind it. Websites that are aesthetically pleasing, well-organized, and simple to use are inherently more usable. They look maintained and up-to-date. It fosters a feeling that the content on the site is probably accurate and up-to-date and that the brand that owns the site is invested in creating a useful digital experience. Websites that are poorly designed look incomplete, out-of-date, and even potentially malicious. Looks matter.
Don’t Slow Down Your Users
People have the best interactions with computers when the computer is moving at a pace that matches their own. That’s one way to say that your website can’t have a slow load time. Whenever we are working with a client’s content, we let them know if a video or an image is slowing their site down and we recommend they amend the file or scrap its use. Slow load times will deter a user from sticking around to find out if your site is good for them.
You Can Have Too Many Choices
When we build websites we advocate for simple navigations that are straight-forward. We do this first by categorizing your content (services, products, subscriptions, entertainment, bio, etc.), and then by using plain-language for page titles and navigation links. It’s important to avoid highly academic or scientific language, acronyms that aren’t commonly understood, or internal-jargon that a user (rather than an employee) won’t understand. Doing both helps us get users to the content they need quickly. If they have too many choices (and the choices are confusing) they’ll navigate away. How can a site be useful if it is at first confusing?
When we see content clustered together we tend to think it’s related, even if the content itself says that it’s not. Similarly, what we perceive as large and closest to us we deem to be the most important content on page. Visual organization is wildly important for this reason. It’s also one of the reasons why in 2019 we believe we are going to see much more color blocking on websites. When we visually segment content we are saying that this topic is important and gets its own space. We are also giving users room to sit with that content and read it before they move on. Visual organization allows users to pace themselves and logically move from message to message.
UX is Good Design
Creating with usability in mind will always result in good design. That’s because creating a usable website calls for implementing visual and structural clarity, good file management, and a level of simplicity. We’ve been using the phrase “gentle user experience” in our office for a while now. With so much content available today, across so many devices, websites that are disarmingly easy to use are going to prevail overs ones that are simply . . . simple. Usability is a differentiator and good design is the path to achieving it.