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What’s all this talk about “usability”?

More and more you’re hearing words thrown around like “User Experience”, “Usability”, “UX”, and “Experience Design” — while these terms sound pretty basic, a lot goes into creating an online environment that visitors will easily interact with and navigate through. Below are several of the more important pieces of creating a solid user experience.

 

Check and double check all browsers

 

Unfortunately, websites don’t behave the same in all browsers. Things may be looking great in Chrome, but a sneaky bug may show up in Firefox or Internet Explorer. To ensure all users are receiving the same experience, be sure to double check all the popular browsers during the programming and testing process; these include Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer (if you must), and mobile browsers.

 

Use a strict color palate

 

Your website design will just feel better if you keep your color palette limited and consistent. Stay true to your branding and feature the main colors of your identity, plus 2-3 complimenting colors if needed. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it will make to the overall presentation.

 

Keep graphics consistent

 

Although they may not be able to put their finger on it, users can tell when there are inconsistencies in your design. Don’t make the mistake of changing the way your images are styled on each page. Keep your formatting consistent by giving all your images the same effect, keeping your thumbnails the same size, using the same icons throughout your site, etc, etc.

 

Choose your fonts wisely

 

Font are fun, yes — but don’t go overboard with using all of your favorite fonts in one design. Similar to your color palette and graphics, fonts should also be consistent.  Limiting your font choices to 2-3 typefaces that compliment each other and your brand is very important to aid in a good user experience.

 

Use a responsive design

 

The massive wave of mobile devices that are flooding the market have begun to force web design in a more dynamic direction. More and more you will begin seeing responsive web designs that are able to morph to fit various resolutions, including mobile devices. The use of a responsive design ensures your viewers will be able to enjoy your website no matter their display settings.

 

Keep it simple, stupid

 

It’s tempting to get creative with things like navigation and layout, but by placing objects where viewers would expect to see them, you will greatly improve usability.  For example, the logo is most often found at the top left of the layout, and navigation on the right. Changing these common locations will leave the user searching for these basic items, resulting in frustration and possibly a high bounce rate. Also, use terms in your navigation that visitors recognize, such as “home, about, contact us” — you will minimize the learning curve users may experience when visiting your site for the first time.

Whether your visitors notice these individual usability standards or not, implementing them with a cautious eye will undoubtedly enhance their overall experience. Have you visited a website recently where you enjoyed a pleasant user experience? Or can you think of any sites that are lacking in a solid UX design?

About the Author

Ali Green

Co-Founder and Creative Director
Schooled in both design and marketing, Ali adds the analytical skills of an engineer to complicated digital marketing strategies.

View Ali's Profile

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