User experience (UX) is one of the most critical aspects of modern web design. Weirdly though, it’s still quite often overlooked, even by professional web designers. If I’m completely honest, I can sort of understand why. Most designers want to be constantly pushing the boundaries, testing their own limits and the norms of their industry. But the problem with this temptation is that they can easily end up neglecting the most important aspect of the site: the people who’ll eventually be using it. First and foremost your website should always cater to the needs of your customers, and that’s the main principle behind great UX design.
At Twentyone, we’ve always built sites using our core process of Define, Design and Refine. It’s a bit of a tongue twister if you try and say it too quickly, but over the years it’s been a philosophy that’s helped us produce websites with brilliant user experiences that deliver real, tangible results for our clients.
Before I properly get cracking on a website’s design, we’ll first agree with the client on a specific set of goals. For example, they might involve converting online traffic to sales, increasing sales leads, or encouraging footfall to physical locations. We don’t make one-size fits all solutions here at Twentyone; these specific goals will influence the entire design of the site, so we never move on before they’re firmly established.
The next step is for me to carry out my own in-depth research on the design. Obviously I’ll start by looking at competitor websites, but I also make sure to check out what’s going on in the design industry, too. New design trends are emerging and developing all the time, so I’ll familiarise myself with the latest ones, and decide whether to utilise any elements of them for my current project.
With my goals firmly laid out and research in hand, I’ll get started on the wire-frame; essentially a visual guide that outlines the eventual framework of the site. I always take care to ensure the design is clearly laid out and customers are easily signposted. The navigation especially needs to be as intuitive as possible. Nobody wants to go sifting through layers and layers of menus to find what they want – you probably wouldn’t stick around on a site like that unless you had no other options, right?
Once I’m happy with the wire-frame and site architecture, I start on the web design concepts. This involves creating two separate design routes which each perfectly answer our client’s brief. I’ll then present these to the client, and the chosen route is rolled across the remaining site layouts before we’ll hand over to Twentyone’s development team for coding.
Throughout this, I’ll always keep mobile responsiveness in mind, as it’s a major consideration in creating good UX. A surprising amount of businesses still don’t account for this, even though mobile browsing overtook desktop all the way back in late 2016. Meanwhile, according to a statistic published this year, 8 in 10 customers would actually stop engaging with content that doesn’t display well on their device – so by making a website responsive, I’m ensuring that the client isn’t potentially missing out on a huge chunk of their target market.
Perfecting a site’s user experience is an ongoing task. Once the site is live, Ashley – our CRO specialist and Head of Search – will gather detailed data on how its visitors interact with it over the course of weeks and months, and how well the site is doing at directing that traffic to achieve the client’s specific commercial objectives. He’ll then recommend small changes for me to make to further refine the usability of the site, or encourage users to perform desirable actions that fulfil conversion goals. Sometimes it’s not what you’d expect; as well as redirecting certain pages or adding calls to action, these changes can even be something as minor as changing the size of a button, or slightly altering certain colours. It’s a complex art, and we’re evolving our methods all the time.
If you’re looking for a practical example of all this, we recently designed a fantastic site for a longstanding customer, which you can read about in our recent case study. If you want to benefit from our web design services, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call on 01254 660 560!