If you were looking for a cabinet maker would your website user experience persuade you, to choose you?
When it comes to your website, user experience (UX) design is a design process with the purpose of providing a meaningful and relevant experience to users.
A question that needs answering is “Of all the cabinet makers available for a person to visit, browse and choose to get in contact with in your local area; why would they choose you?”.
What makes your website and your message stand out and be more persuasive than your competition?
Here are 8 user experience principles that can help you provide a better visitor experience to visitors on your website and make your business and your story more persuasive:
Design should concentrate on the user experience
It’s essential to make your website's pages stand out from the massive number of competing websites and pages clamouring for your visitors' attention.
The elements on your website should be appealing to the eye and therefore the mind. Graphics, text, layout and any interactive elements need to work together to tell a persuasive story that provides an experience and not simply function as a brochure presenting information.
Your website and it’s messaging needs to engage an emotional response from your visitors to really stand out and be memorable. People buy with emotion and then rationalise with logic.
User experience design is an essential process when creating, building and managing your website.
Websites are not read, they are scanned
Due to the massive amount of content people have to handle each day, their attention spans are short. Your website needs to find the balance between being informative and being a quick easy read.
Visitors need to be able to quickly scan a page and find the information they’re looking for.
Using Quality images, copywriting, headings, typography, infographics and video on your website all make it easier for your visitors to initially scan and evaluate your site's ability to answer their most burning question: “Can you help me?”
People spend a lot of their time on other websites and have therefore developed an expectation of what they will see on every other website.
It is therefore a good idea to design your website in a format that your visitors would expect to see within your industry.
Ways to achieve this include:
Layout: group elements together that either are or perceived to be related, for example making clickable buttons in a bright accented colour and keeping those buttons uniform across your website.
Grouping images together that are related to a product or service and then making those images animated when a visitor hovers over them highlights their importance and therefore a call to action.
Typography: Use clear, readable fonts. A rule of thumb is no more than 2 font styles, one for headings and one for the body text. It also means sticking to web friendly fonts.
Make your font size slightly bigger for example 18 pixels high which makes it easier for the reader to clearly see the words and therefore scan the text.
Limited choices: The paradox of choice. the more options people have the less likely they are to make a choice.
User experience design means clarity and simplicity
Based on user experience principle #2 which is an easily scannable website.
Half a second, that’s all you have for visitors to evaluate the design of your website and form an opinion about your business and whether or not you can help them.
You need to be clear about what you want your visitors to do and make it easy for them to do so.
Keep messages like your sales pitch or one liner simple and repeat it often.
Keep your calls to action consistent across your pages and your website. For most small businesses this means getting people to call your office or sign up for a newsletter or a high quality lead magnet.
Common design elements versus creativity
As mentioned earlier, don't try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to your visitors' user experience.
Creating new user patterns will have an impact on their biases and therefore make it harder for them to figure out what you're trying to communicate. this is not what you want.
Using web conventions also gives your site more credibility and therefore increases the level of trust your visitor will experience.
Common design elements include:
- A clear and intuitive navigation.
- Consistency of your message and story, images, calls to action (CTA), font styles and sizes, backgrounds, colour schemes and so on…
- Responsive design across devices.
- Conventionality such as the positioning of logos, clickable logos, navigation menus, links and buttons that animate when hovered over.
When you include the common design elements that visitors would expect to be on your site you create a pleasurable user experience for them.
Know the audience
Knowing your audience means knowing how to communicate with your audience. In today's business environment consumers are in control of their customer value journey.
- 87% of consumers begin their hunt on digital channels. Which means you need to have sales funnels in place?
- Nearly 6 in 10 consumers surveyed are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact. Are you therefore educating your visitors as to the recyclable or environmentally friendly features of some of your materials?
- 73 percent indicate that traceability of products is important to them. If something about your products has a good origin story, do your visitors or clients know?
- 50% of consumers look for independently owned businesses to support. This is higher for cabinet makers as most of us are founder / owner or family operated!
The few data points above are a snapshot of the behaviours, biases and habits that influence your visitors and therefore future customer behaviour.
You are more of an online business than you may think and the number of touch points you need to have in place to build a know, like and trust relationship with visitors which turns them into customers are more than you may be delivering.
Visual hierarchy in user experience design
When placing elements on your website, highlight the ones that are the most important for visitors to focus on.
Our brains are overloaded with information seeking attention.
It therefore seeks to compartmentalize and arrange an order with which to get things done.
We should utilise and work with this natural user experience hierarchy.
People tend to scan a page using two pattern types F and Z patterns.
Readers use F patterns when reading heavy blocks of text such as blog posts and articles. It is also the most commonly used patterns for web content.
They scan down the left side of the page looking at interesting headings, keywords and sentences. The pattern can also look like an E shape.
To benefit from this, you need to align your important information to the left, use well-structured bold headlines, bullet points, short paragraphs and other similar copywriting techniques to grab and hold a visitor's attention.
Z patterns typically apply to pages such as websites and ads where the information is not presented in block style paragraphs and is image rich with a lot of space between elements allowing the reader's eyes to move in a z type pattern
Size does matter when it comes to the user experience
Do you want to emphasize something within your message, then make it bigger.
By making something larger and therefore emphasizing it you also create a pattern interrupt,
This achieves two objectives. First, it makes visitors linger just a little bit longer on your page or site which is beneficial for time spent on site in your Analytics Secondly it opens up a knowledge gap which compels people to want to know more.
Wanting to know more means you get more time to take your visitor on a journey through your website which is good for building trust and the visitor is on your site that bit longer which is good for SEO metrics.
Space and texture
Leaving space around a design element moves it up in the visual hierarchy.
The use of negative space means that the element or elements are more visible to the reader.
Therefore greater simplicity and clarity.
The use of space and clarity also helps to easily indicate your call-to-action and help your visitor to smoothly move from section to section or from page to page on your website.
Typeface weight and pairing
While the use of words conveys information, so do your design elements.Typeface weights refer to the widths of the letters as well as the style, this includes italicization.
Font pairing refers to matching two font types that will work well together.
Typeface weight and pairing add another layer of information that your reader needs to process.
When it comes to images one has a bit more freedom to use different weights and colours as you can see on this cover of Grand Designs magazine. However a strict selection of font pairing has been maintained.
Keep design choices clear and simple so that your visitor can move along with the story and journey you are taking them on as easily and with the least amount of friction as possible.
Colour and tint
Bright colours, muted colours and greyscale.
Colour and tint can be used to make design elements feel warmer or cooler, distant or closer, darker or lighter and to establish a hierarchy
Use the 60/30/10 rule. A dominant colour would be used 60% of the space, a secondary colour 30% and accent colours 10%.
Avoid using low contrast when it comes to text. This improves readability and therefore a better user experience
Colour and tint help create a sense of harmony and balance which amplifies clarity and simplicity, this supports the visual hierarchy of your website and your customers' value journey while visiting.
Having just had a discussion covering issues such as simplicity and clarity, visual hierarchy, colour and tint, typeface weight and pairing, we can now consider breaking the rules a little bit
Web page layouts usually follow a vertical and horizontal, linear, grid structure. That being said, you still want to grab people's attention and keep them interested in continuing to explore your website.
So, let's throw in a little pattern interrupt that stands out from the vertical and the horizontal.
Graphic elements arranged on a diagonal or curved plane will immediately stand out against the surrounding elements.
The diagonal design element can also be used to effectively display a number of products or services in an interesting way.
The principle of beauty
Why does the principle of Beauty matter when it comes to the design of your website?
The reason that it matters is because of AESTHETIC USABILITY.
“Beautiful products/objects are perceived as easier to use and more valuable than ugly ones. even if it's not true!” UXCollective
Psychological studies have shown that people have a strong natural attraction toward beautiful things, beautiful places and beautiful people.
People are open to having their senses easily stimulated. They are constantly seeking comfort, pleasure, happiness and status. When it comes to a kitchen, think comfort food, Sunday family lunches, birthday party baking or even meal prep to successfully complete that new health and fitness program.
As a cabinet maker your product is a very visual one and provides the cue to sensory stimulation.
The images of your projects are not only a form of case study, they also connect the dots for your visitors' expectations, mental models and biases in terms of what they think they should see and experience on your site.
They may have been looking at the beautiful images of kitchens or bathrooms on the ArchitecturalDigest.com website and then clicked over to your website.
What are you showing them? Top quality images or something taken on the fly with your smartphone camera with poor lighting, under or over exposure and no color saturation?
Whether we admit it or not, we judge according to how attractive something looks. The more attractive the cover, the more we believe the contents are better.
When your website reflects attention to detail then it’s reasonable for your visitor to believe that you will apply the same detail to their kitchen, bathroom, closet or other bespoke cabinetry project.
People have limitations
People lose interest quickly, they make mistakes and their memory is complicated,only being able to remember between 3 and 7 items at a time.
People don’t want to work or think more than they have to.
Your website needs to communicate a clear and simple message that is repeated often, and you have a layout that is easy to understand and navigate.
Choosing a cabinet maker to build their kitchen, bathroom, closets, wall units or any other bespoke cabinetry project is a big decision.
A big decision not only in terms of cost but also in terms of the relationship.
They want a contractor that will take the hassle out of the design and build process, be easy to communicate with and do what they say they are going to do when they say they are going to do it.
User experience design obviously isn’t a quick fix or cure-all methodology but it can go a long way towards shortening the bridge of trust required for a visitor to feel comfortable to pick up the phone and call your office, fill in the contact form on your website, or to email you.
Your website is your single most important piece of real estate in your online portfolio.
It gives you an all important opportunity to create a great first impression, hold your visitors' attention and then persuade them that you are the company that can be trusted to build the project they need help with.
When the design of your website and other digital assets show that you care, then your visitors' trust will grow and they will feel more comfortable to pick up a phone and call, or send you an email, and in that moment you have transformed a relationship and taken a stranger and turned them into a believer.
Now go and look at your website. How does your user experience design shape up?