At the heart of user experience (UX) design is what speaks to your target audience.
There are millions of websites vying for the attention of the public. If you want to grab your site visitors and keep them engaged, you need to pay attention to the user-friendliness of your site.
Statista took an in-depth look at websites with UX functions and found that about 60.3 percent utilized cross-sells, 51.3 percent used newsletter sign-ups, and 30.8 percent incorporated quick-order options.
While it's impossible to integrate every possible UX principle, the more customer-focused you become, the easier your site will be for users to navigate.
We've narrowed UX design down to nine essential things you should integrate today.
9 UX Design Principles You Need to Adopt
While you should continuously strive to improve your website for the user, start with these features and then expand from there.
1. Check Your User Interface.
While UX is completely different from UI, it is difficult to have a good user experience if your interface is off.
Your site needs to function in a way that makes sense to the user. For example, if the forms on your site don't work, then the user's experience is a negative one, and they have no way to get in touch with you or sign up for your mailing list.
2. Lay Out Your Site Hierarchy.
Your site's architecture needs to make sense. Users expect a certain placement for things.
For example, the logo on a website is almost always in the upper left or center of the header and links back to the home page. The layout of your navigation bar should be intuitive. The home button goes on the far left and the contact button on the far right.
Over time, your site increases in size. You'll add more content, more videos, and more categories. Think about the main categories you'd like to lay out and the subcategories that will go under each.
3. Study User Metrics.
If you want a site that meets user needs, spend time studying their patterns. The more you analyze your target audience, the better you can meet their needs. The content on your page, the offers, and even the colors you use all tie into the psychology of your typical site visitor.
Take a look at both qualitative and quantitative data for the best results. Studying both types of information allows you to improve conversions, track cause-and-effect, and persuade those who are mildly interested into becoming stakeholders.
4. Cut the Clutter.
You can offer dozens of amazing features meant to engage users, but if there is too much stuff on your landing page, visitors won't know what to try first. Think about the overall goal of your page and the action you'd like people to take when they land there.
Everything on the page needs to point toward that goal. Remove anything that doesn't push users through to the next step in the buyer's journey.
5. Use Clear Product Images.
Have you ever visited a site and considered buying something but weren't quite sure because the images made it hard to decipher exactly what you're buying? Add clear product images to entice users to purchase an item.
In a survey by Statista of 1,372 U.S. online shoppers, researchers found that 87.6 percent of people felt clear product images equaled a positive shopping experience. Photos ranked above even product reviews and descriptions.
6. Pay Attention to Mobile Responsiveness.
In the same Statista survey, around 48.4 percent of shoppers indicate they want ecommerce sites that are easy to use on mobile devices. If your site isn't already mobile-friendly, making it friendly to smaller screens is one of the top things you can do to improve your UX.
The majority of people in the Western world now have smartphones. Many use their phones to access the internet and make purchases. If you aren't designing for mobile, you're missing out on a significant portion of your potential audience.
7. Test Your Site.
There is a big difference between what users think and what they actually do. They may say they want your site to offer more features but then use only one or two.
Digging into heatmaps and other site analytics helps you see what actions users take when they land on your pages. Look at the elements they don't use and remove them if they aren't vital.
8. Turn Complex Data Into Visuals.
You know your business inside and out. You can tell a customer in 50 different ways why buying from you is the smart choice. You know more figures than a mathematician.
Unfortunately, this may overwhelm your site visitors. One way to help people process complex data is through the use of visual graphics.
Look at the data on your page. Is any of it too advanced for a beginner? How can you present it in an infographic so that it's more digestible and easy to understand?
9. Keep It Short.
There is a bit of a conundrum today. Adobe reports that the average attention span today is around nine seconds or less. Their advice is not to overwhelm users with information.
However, Google's algorithms seem to favor longer content, and some studies show that people are more engaged when you give them in-depth information.
How do you balance the needs of short attention spans with the need for in-depth pieces?
One method is breaking up longer pieces with H2 and H3 headings. Add bullet points, images, infographics, videos, and anything you can think of to separate the text and keep the reader engaged. Make things skimmable for the reader, and use descriptive headlines as well.
UX Is Never Finished
Start with the nine elements listed above to improve your UX instantly. However, keep in mind that user needs change, and you should always strive to make your site more user-centric.
Study patterns, try new things, split-test, and improve your site as long as it's in operation. With minor effort, your conversion rates should improve dramatically.
Lexie Lu is a freelance graphic designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest design news and always has some coffee in close proximity. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.