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No matter what the nature of your business, your website is one of the most critical parts of your infrastructure. Your website is the first thing visitors see, and the first impression it creates will follow them through all their future interactions.
In fact, a poor first impression could even mean that there will be no future interactions with your business, and over time, a poorly designed website could cost your firm lots of money. If you are not doing everything you can to improve user interaction on your website, you are not making the most of your business.
Improving user interaction on your website is not as difficult as you might think, nor does it have to be expensive. All you need to do is follow the simple suggestions outlined below.
Let the type of user interaction guide your website design
The nature of user interaction can, and should, have a profound impact on the design of your website. Knowing how the average user will likely interact with the site can give you valuable guidance as you design the initial website and make changes going forward.
Do the majority of your users interact directly with the website through button clicking, swiping, dragging items with their fingertips or otherwise touching the screen? Or do your users interact in a more indirect manner, like clicking on a link with a mouse or typing information into a form? The answers to these questions can help you design a user interface that is simple, intuitive and highly effective.
Know your audience
The more you know about your audience of users and website visitors, the easier it will be to design a user interface they will love. Learning about your audience of users starts with collecting detailed demographic information, like average age, income level and occupation, but you need to delve much deeper to create a truly intuitive user interface.
You can gather some of the information you need, like where website visitors are coming from, what they do when they get there and how long they stay on the site from Google Analytics and other programs, but in-person focus groups where you watch users interact can be far more informative. This kind of in-depth research can be expensive, but it will be invaluable.
Make your design easy to understand
If you want to create a truly usable and intuitive interface, visitors should be able to understand everything at a glance. When someone comes to your website for the first time, they should be able to determine what every button does, and how to navigate from page to page with a minimum of fuss and frustration.
That means using widely recognized symbols, like the trash can, delete button, magnifying glass, search box and plus sign. When the average user sees these symbols, he or she will know exactly what to do, and their user experience will benefit from your smart and intuitive design.
Anticipate and correct common mistakes
When you type a search term into Google, the search engine anticipates what you are trying to do and responds with helpful suggestions along the way. The website is not reading your mind; the programmers have simply built in anticipatory language and corrections to common spelling errors.
You can do the same on your own website, anticipating and automatically correcting common mistakes and responding in an unobtrusive and intuitive manner. Anticipating the needs of your visitors and giving them what they need before they know they need it is a key part of designing a successful user interface.
Provide instant feedback to enhance the user experience
Whether they click on a broken link or try to access a page that no longer exists, your visitors deserve instant feedback and real-time information. Building that feedback into your website design can improve user experience and make sure the first impression is a good one – even when things do not go as planned.
This instant feedback could be as simple as a funny message when the site is temporarily unavailable or a friendly reminder to double-click on a navigational link. The more information you provide, the better the user experience can be.
Designing a truly useful website is not always easy, but incorporating some smart design elements into your interface can improve the user experience and enhance the perception of your brand. Whether your website is brand new or undergoing a much-needed redesign, the tips above can help ensure every user experience is a positive one.