This past weekend I was out with a group of my friends. One of them, who is about to sell his business, turned to me and said, “ I think I am going to retire and start writing.”
I knew where he was going with this, but I pretended to be ignorant and stare blankly, then I said, “So you are looking for new hobbies to pursue?” He politely responded, “No. I am going to work like you do.”
I hear this all the time. There is this thought that because we have been writing since we were children, producing great content and being a writer is easy.
Many of you might be laughing at people, like my friend, who seem oblivious to the hard work that goes into any admirable profession.
But we all do this. We are all hypocrites.
For some reason, people get this convoluted idea in their head that one person’s career field is easy and they could master it in about two weeks, but their field would take decades to master.
One of those fields that many people develop this line of thought in is web design.
Entrepreneurs and new web designers think that because of all the website builders and information out there, they could set up a high-converting and awesome website in a matter of weeks.
As a result, we either try to do the site design ourselves, or we hire web designers for the lowest possible prices, which result in a lot of common design mistakes.
All business owners claim their websites are important to them, yet 80 percent of all websites return zero on their investment.
Today I want to focus a little bit more about what goes into good web design and why there is a lot more involved than most people believe. There are two main components to web design: user interface and user experience.
User interface (UI) is a fancy term for the functionality of a website. UI focuses on delivering a user to their desired goals through elements that are easy to understand, access and use.
The two main questions you need to ask when it comes to UI are what might the user need to do? And how can I design the site so it is as easy and efficient as possible for what the user needs to do?
To anticipate user needs, think about your business model and what your customer desires. Talk to your market to find this information out or implement and test as you go.
For example, if you ran a clothing ecommerce site, your user’s needs would be to end up purchasing something. They would need to be able to see images of the clothes, prices, sizes and colors.
The elements are the design specifications that work to drive the user to their desired goal. If you run a blog, the user is going on there for help, to read information and may eventually sign-up to learn more. The important elements would be your fonts, images and buttons.
A simple use of fonts in UI is text structuring. It would include headings being larger and regular paragraphs being the smallest. Bolding and headers are not good just for fast reading, but they allow the user to find the most important content, which slowly leads them to their desired goal.
UI is different for every website and different website platforms like desktop versus mobile. For the best UI be sure to make your design simple, create consistency, strategically use color and texture and be purposeful in your page layout.
User experience (UX) is the way a user feels, thinks and perceives your website. It is a bit of a subjective measurement because not everyone agrees on what joy or frustration is.
The first goal of UX is to make your website as easy to use as possible. Nothing will make your potential customers leave faster than frustration and difficulty. Don’t believe me?
Online shopping cart abandonment rates are near 70 percent and the reasons often cited have to do with the fact that shoppers get frustrated that they are forced to create accounts, endure complicated checkout and deal with poor usability.
So make sure your site is easy to use, the colors are easy on the eyes, your website is fast enough and your customer can get through your site without any problems.
If you can accomplish that challenge, your next goal is to transcend making it easy for your customers and create a joyful experience for your user. The best UX leaves your customer feeling good that they took the time to interact with your website.
For example, take the time to understand and use the words of your customers. As a fitness enthusiast, I see fitness blogs all the time that say vague and basic things like, “lose weight’’ or “gain more muscle.”
I can tell these sites have not done much customer research. They should be saying things like, “fit into those high school jeans” or “like what you see in the mirror again.”
Using words like this engages the mind of your customer so that they have an entirely different and better experience than if they visit a website that just says, “lose weight today.”
Another good example is a website called Threadless, a t-shirt ecommerce store. When you add items to your shopping cart, a tiny box pops up with an image of a shopping cart smiling and saying one yummy item has been added to your cart. Contrast that with most websites that simply say item added to cart.
The user of this website feels happy. How could you not when there is a smiling shopping cart calling a shirt yummy? The shopper feels good about using their site and it provides an experience that is unlike anywhere else on the web.
Hopefully by now, you realize that good web design is the blending of multiple disciplines: engineering, marketing, sales and design. It is about your user being able to achieve his or her needs on your site and allowing that person to have a great time doing it.
It means using the right buttons and colors, but it also means making your website fast and using the right words. Web design skills take years to master, not weeks.
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