Designing a Balanced Website User Interface
Researching User Experience to Balance Who You Are with What End Users Are Looking For
These times are really exciting in the digital landscape with so many mediums at our disposal. The awesomeness with all that’s available and the data that each provides, to better understand flows and trends about markets. Believe it or not, the foundation to building a strong website experience is supported by extensive data research. Offering the insights necessary to build a user experience and user interface that finds the balance between communicating who you are while offering users a simple, branded content delivery that quickly answers their questions.
The really cool kicker to all of this is the creative ways we can use animations, video, great photography with really well written content to effectively answer questions that consumers are asking about the products you sell or services you offer. Vast opportunities to better communicate with engaging content… content that distinguishes you from the rest of the market.
What are some of the challenges that may come with these exciting times.
Simply answered, the landscape is big! This is not a negative. It’s just a reality. Understanding your users and comparing their trends with data research helps to develop informed strategies. Here comes the buzzword mania… the goal is to develop a website that provides a user experience, user interface design and information architecture that balances your brand with an end user’s expectations and answers questions quickly.
There’s a lot happening in that last sentence. A lot of buzzwords or keywords all related to the industry that might not make sense. I’m going to take the time to define the keywords, explain a bit on how data and research are used and what types of data and what types of research assist with making really good decisions. Then bring it all together to develop a user experience and interface that can really help communicate who you are effectively.
What is user experience design?
User experience or UX encompasses how an end user interacts with all aspects of your business. In website terms, UX design is a reflection of user experience research and data which are combined for a strong information architecture. Delivering content to effectively help an end user navigate through your website and answer questions quickly. UX is not the process of visual design. It primarily revolves around the feel of the experience as a whole.
What is user interface design?
In web terms, user interface design revolves around the process of creating elements both for visual and interactive purposes. Creating a visual guide based on brand standards that remains in line with the rest of a brand that is both aesthetically pleasing and understandable.
Overall, it’s an interface that is creating an experience that’s intuitive to an end user and answers questions quickly and effectively.
What is information architecture?
Websites are puzzles, and information architecture is the process of putting those puzzle pieces together. Primarily focusing on how the organization, labeling, structuring and navigation of items relate to each other within the system as a whole. The overall goal is to help end users find information to answer their questions as easily as possible.
If you’re just doing without really knowing, you may not be failing but you certainly aren’t succeeding.
Now that we have the buzzwords cleared up and you’re feeling up to speed, it’s a great time to say that this stuff doesn’t really just come together. Ultimately what’s happening is you’re investing a lot of time, money and resources into developing a brand that you’re proud of and that also relates to your target audience. The process isn’t to just kind of come up with a couple ideas and say hey this looks right and that sounds good and put everything together. That’s not really how this process works.
Developing a website that speaks to your end users can be managed many ways. Simply taking a few ideas, a bit of instinct, a lot of opinion and topping it off with some creative flair with the expectations of a successful outcome is not a very good recipe.
The balancing act… brand, end users and stakeholders.
A good amount of focus goes into appeasing or satisfying stakeholders of a company and their views or values of how they see their business. Stakeholders are key voices in the process and it’s vital that we work with them to find a balance by taking into consideration how end users see their business.
We need to ensure we are not just satisfying both voices, but validating why we make the decisions that lead to this satisfaction.
What happens when we accommodate opinion over research… a website fails to serve the true purpose. End users are traveling 3, 4 possibly 5 pages deep, they aren’t getting the answers they’re looking for quick enough. All of the time and financial investment ultimately doesn’t provide the conversions expected to get from a new website. A bad user experience, interface design and information architecture have a tremendous negative impact through the entire ecosystem.
The most successful websites invest a lot of time in tracking data analysis and understanding users flows and engagement on their website. The data is compiled to make informed decisions and begin capitalizing on a user experience that’s much cleaner and effective.
What data is used for data research?
I mean Colonel Sanders hasn’t shared his secret recipe… fair to say some secrets will remain close to the chest. That said, there are many tools native to sites and add-ons that provide strong insights into end users and behavior.
When all of the data and research finally comes together there is a much stronger understanding of your end users, your product, your peers and competitors. This offers the ability to make informed decisions and problem-solve more effectively. Strategically create an information architecture that’s clean, simple and to the point. End users visiting your website understand exactly what they’re looking for and you’re telling them where to go to find it.
With all of these pieces in place we now have the ability to focus on content and content delivery. Speaking to who you are, how you benefit an end user and the simplest path to conversion.
The best approach is the team approach.
Working together to empower clients with the knowledge necessary to understand the process, best practices and why specific decisions are or are not implemented. In the end, the goal is an experience that we all grow from, with healthy communication which ultimately produces a website that is fast, accessible and a representation of your brand that an end user finds happiness in using.