User Experience (more commonly called UX) basically describes the experience someone has while using a product, website, or app. To put it simply, if you go to a website and find everything you need quickly and efficiently, without a lot of fuss, that’s a good user experience. If you visit a website and aren’t sure where to click, or you get stuck somewhere and can’t find what you’re looking for, that’s a bad user experience.
A lot of times this mystery meat appears when people try to get creative with new kinds of buttons and icons. Over time, we’ve all been trained to look for specific cues to navigate online—a little phone icon will lead you to the phone number, a magnifying glass takes you to search, etc. Throw an unexpected or ambiguous choice into the mix, and people will get confused.
The solution is often very simple: use icons and images that have been universally established to represent an action. There are great resources online like flaticon.com and graphicburger.com, which have dozens of free sets of icons for you to use, all utilizing industry-recognized designs.
In addition to the missing password link, she found my design confusing and didn’t understand what the app would be used for. I thought she was crazy. It was obviously designed to keep people on schedule by setting simple tasks. I immediately ignored her feedback and moved on to choosing which color scheme I thought would work best for the app. It wasn’t until I shared that version with some other people that I got the same feedback as before. I guess I was the crazy one, I wasn’t listening and I got ahead of myself. Once I took a step back and reviewed all of my collected feedback, I found clear patterns and changes that could have been made easily if I had listened earlier on.
Save yourself days of unnecessary work by listening to feedback early on, and it will save you hours of lost sleep! Usabilla.com is a great site to gather continuous user feedback from your visitors; getting access to this kind of information has never been easier.
A great way to see if this is true for your site is to ask a friend or family member to “test” your website by using it in front of you for the first time. Ask them to talk their way through each step, telling you why they decided to click where they did. Do not answer any of their questions, simply observe and notice where they are getting stuck. At the end of the “test,” refer to your notes and see if additional text could have cleared up some of their questions.
The best way to ensure you are using enough white space is to sketch out a basic layout on a piece of paper. Draw a grid and outline exactly where an image should live as well as the text. This will naturally give you chunks of white space and ease the business of your layout. Use this design for every page of your content, it will create consistency for your user and nice, clean flow for your site.
The easiest solution is to take your own photos, but not everyone has an eye for aperture. I recently discovered deathtothestockphoto.com which gives you access to high resolution stock photography for free, they even email them to you directly. Our post on website images also has more recommendations for royalty-free photo sites.
Avoid using images you found on search engines because they belong to other people and while you may be asked nicely to take found photos down, some people are not so friendly about it.
For instance, when asking a user to input their information, begin with their name, address, phone, etc. in that order. Starting out with details that aren’t common can be confusing and will only cause the user to input incorrect information.
On a similar note, place the most important pieces of information "above the fold." This means that key elements should be visible on the screen before a user starts scrolling downwards. Use the upper right corner for small buttons like “search”, “contact”, and/or “sign in”. As a rule of thumb, the user shouldn’t have to use their mouse to see important information, it should be presented to them first thing.