It’s amazing how far websites have come. Looking at the interactive websites today, it’s somehow hard to believe that 20 years ago, websites were text-based, one-column pages that can’t practically do anything. Fast forward to 2015, and we have websites that let us write reviews, shop, and watch shows and events as they happen.

Web design has changed dramatically over the past decade but what users look for in a website remained essentially the same. Websites have to be easy to navigate, convenient, useful, and relevant. And you must be able to satisfy these demands in a split of a second or you’ll lose your audience.

A survey by Google revealed that some opinions on a website are formed within 17 milliseconds Websites that looked easy to navigate and scored low on visual complexity were perceived as highly appealing. A related eye tracking study conducted by the Missouri University of Science and Technology found that the website sections that drew most interest from users are: logo, navigation menu, search box, and site’s main image. It takes 2.6 seconds for a user’s eyes to land on that area of a website that could form their first impression and influence their decision whether to stay on the site or leave.

Web designers are constantly finding ways to improve usability of websites especially now that web design trends are skewed towards designs that fit the content consumption cycle of users. Website designs must address every step of the cycle in order to turn website consumption and leads into customers.

It is important to take note of how people consume your web content in designing your website. This elevates the importance of websites from merely increasing awareness to building loyal customers. Here’s how you do it:

Mind your look

Photo courtesy of StartupStockPhotos via Pixabay

Photo courtesy of StartupStockPhotos via Pixabay

The thing about first impressions is you can’t reverse it. You only have one chance to create a good impression and one way to make sure that the first is going to stick for the right reasons, work on how your website looks.

Mind user interface in your web design. With the ever-evolving trends, designers sometimes forget what really matters: simplicity. There are a lot of often-ignored UI elements that designers should be very careful about in order to create a good and effective user interface.

A good interface has to be clear. Indeed, the ultimate purpose of a design is to enable people to interact. And if people can’t figure out how your website works, they’ll get frustrated. As you work on clarity, make sure that you are also concise with your message. If you can label a button with one word instead of two, do it. If you can describe a feature in a sentence instead of two, do it. Make sure that your website also looks familiar or something users have encountered before so that they won’t be intimidated. It must also be responsive, efficient, attractive, and consistent. Your design should also be forgiving so that when users commit a mistake with their payment options for example, they can undo the action, and not go through the process of filling-out information all over again.

Graphic drills they want

Photo courtesy of geralt via Pixabay

Photo courtesy of geralt via Pixabay

Users themselves may not notice it, but they are very specific when it comes to graphic elements they want on a website. These are the design elements that you must work on to improve user experience.

A UX design is one that enhances user satisfaction by improving usability, accessibility, and interaction between user and brand or company. A Google survey suggested the specific design elements that people want to see: search bar that is easy to find and use (78%), looks clean and efficient (74%), big and finger-friendly buttons (69%), and “click to call” the business (66%). They also want scrolling in one direction only, just one or two clicks for more information, and option to save information for later.

Make sure your website is mobile-friendly

Photo courtesy of Unsplash via pixabay

Photo courtesy of Unsplash via pixabay

If your website is not optimized for mobile screens, users will abandon you in a split second. A Google survey revealed that 72% of users find mobile-friendly sites to be important to them and 74% said they’re more likely to revisit mobile-friendly sites.

Remember that smartphones have already overtaken laptops and desktops in popularity. People do everything now using their phones: alarm from the time they wake up, send emails, check social media, and watch YouTube videos. So make sure your site can be accessed via the smartphone or you are just designing in futility.

As convenient as apps

Photo courtesy of MariusMB via Pixabay

Photo courtesy of MariusMB via Pixabay

It is easy to understand why 85% of consumers prefer mobile apps over websites. Apps are perceived more convenient, faster, and easier to browse. It is important to note that 53% of website users find a button that says “download an app” as an essential feature, suggesting high demand for apps overall.

People like apps because they are focused, even personal. When you open it, you feel that it was designed exclusively for you and your needs. Websites have to be designed the same way. Focused and not cluttered. It must be convenient to use. Users must know instinctively where to find what they want on your website. It should be that easy.

Make it fast

Photo courtesy of jingoba via Pixabay

Photo courtesy of jingoba via Pixabay

If you are thinking of ways to improve the usability of a website design, think fast, literally. Speed is a killer at a time when attention spans of people tend to get shorter and shorter.

According to surveys by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a website to load in two seconds or less. If a load doesn’t load in three seconds, they’ll abandon it. Speed is even more critical for shopping websites. The research further showed that 79% of web shoppers who have a bad experience with a website won’t return to the site.

There are a lot of online tools available to help your sites load faster. Don’t ignore this when designing a website because if users do not even have the patience for your website to load, they won’t even get to see the product of your hard work.

Users can take action easily

Photo courtesy of fancycrave1 via Pixabay

Photo courtesy of fancycrave1 via Pixabay

Users today want control. If they can’t seem to do anything on your website, they will leave. Think interactivity and engagement.

In designing a website, users should be able to send an email, get to the company’s social networking page, play a video clip, call your customer hotline, ask questions and make suggestions. You can even run a poll for their amusement. Just let them do something, keep them busy, and make them stay.

Focus on user needs

Photo courtesy of FirmBee via Pixabay

Photo courtesy of FirmBee via Pixabay

Giving users an optimal user experience is among the more recent pillars of web design. And one way to ensure that a UX-based design is able to deliver is seeing to it that it focuses on user’s needs. Designers today are lucky because “needs” are no longer that hard to identify. Search engines have definitely changed the game. A study revealed that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine and that search is the top driver of traffic to content sites. What does this mean to design? This means it is now easier to identify what people are looking for and craft your design based on them.

There are now several online tools that will help you analyze massive amounts of data. Use these to identify and satisfy specific user needs. If users always search for a particular video for example, make sure you give it to them by prioritizing it in your design.

Most marketers understand and accept that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach in web design. Specific goals and business need differ. However, the pillars and tenets of an effective web design remain: usability, convenience, and optimum user experience.