Web and UX Design Made Simple
What is the Role of Design in the Purchasing Process?
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We all know that looks matter.
Visual design plays a huge role in our decision-making process when purchasing a product or a service. Different people have different preferences when it comes to colors, shapes, and even font sizes.
This is true whether they are choosing a box of cereal at the supermarket or browsing through the ocean of websites online.
We have all been there from a perspective of a buyer: we pick something that “works” better for us.
However, if you are reading this guide, it’s likely that you are interested in the other side of that process. What makes people choose your product or website over the competition? What helps them purchase your products with confidence?
Let’s find out.
What is the Difference Between Web Design and UX (User Experience) Design?
You might be a bit confused at this point.
After all, design is design, right? Isn’t web design just making sure that your website looks pretty? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, design is making things look pretty, but it is also much more.You might be surprised to know that website design has a huge impact on your search engine rankings. Web Design is a part of the four main digital marketing principles found in all websites that rank high on Google. Together, they create what we call a healthy digital ecosystem.
If you need a fresh perspective on your website design, you can apply for a free website design and usability session with one of our digital marketing experts.
You can also download our free website design and usability guide.
Web Design / User Interface Design (How Things Look)
To put it in simple terms, web design is almost all about looks.
It is how things look and how they feel on the outside. Web design encompasses colors, shapes, font types, and sizes. It makes the things we use and see beautiful. It defines micro-interactions and dresses our content in pretty clothes to limit the gap between the user and the interface.
Web design is the logo painted on the plane you are about to fly. It’s the outfits of the flight attendants, and it’s the color scheme on the seat you are about to sit on.
Usability and User Experience Design
Even the most beautiful website would just be eye candy if not for its usability.
When a user interacts with your content, they follow certain thought processes. These processes are studied and analyzed in user testing labs to create a great experience that comes along with amazing looks.
The role of User Experience design is to use these processes to your advantage. Scenarios can be different depending on your business, but the most important thing to do for usability and UX is to go with the way your visitors think and minimize the obstacles leading up to that goal.
UX Design is the way the airplane seat is adapted to the needs of its user. The button to recline your seat has been placed there for a reason, just like your reading lights or mini tv screens are there to entertain you during a stressful (and sometimes lengthy) flight.
Web Design as a Language
You would be surprised by how important certain elements of web design are.
Design matters - every decision you make can have a huge impact on the end-user.
This means that it is crucial to have a great-looking website, not only for yourself, but for your customer base as well.
Web design has rules. Colors matter, shapes lead the eye, and rounded edges influence perception.
Web Design & User Experience Guide
ColorsEvery color has its own unique meaning. Think of traffic lights and how each light color makes you think. It’s easy, right? Red means stop, yellow means alert or danger, and green means go. Whether you use red or green matters. This is a simple example, but colors connect with different feelings. Here is a quick look at a few examples:
Red: Power, energy, passion, desire, speed, strength, power, heat, love, aggression, danger, fire, blood, war, violence, intensity, celebration, luck, stop or danger; Christmas and Valentine’s Day
Blue: Peace, harmony, unity, trust, truth, security, confidence, conservatism, order, sky, water, cold, technology, cleanliness, depression, loyalty, immortality, stability, masculinity and protection
White: Earth, hearth, home, outdoors, reliability, comfort, endurance, stability, simplicity, comfort, trees, nature and autumn
Read more about the colors here.
In web design, shapes can lead an eye towards the point where you want your visitors to click. Shapes can also influence how your customer feels when browsing through your website. Different shapes are also used when dealing with different kind of customers.
For instance, when designing for young mothers, you might want to use softer edges and more curves. On the other hand, if your website is directed towards blacksmiths, you will likely be more successful when using harder edges and less curvy shapes.
Empty space is a shape of its own. A button placed in a busy area next to coupons, promos, and other ads will become invisible. That same button surrounded by empty space will call much more attention.
Font types and sizes
Different fonts communicate different messages. Similar to shapes, customers of certain types of businesses will need a different font selection. If you go to a nail salon, an auto shop, or an Irish pub, you are likely going to see different fonts on their signs. Fonts generally could be divided into three sections: Serif, Sans-serif, and Cursive. Each of them have different uses.
Font size is equally as important. For example, if your website is directed to seniors, you might want to use a bigger font. If you own a bookstore, smaller font might be the best choice.
Text formatting in web design is a bit different than the formatting found in books. Studies have shown that people do not take the time to read websites. Instead, they scan them quickly. Their focus span is much shorter and special measures have to be taken to deal with that difference.
The most important elements are short paragraphs (2-4 lines of text per paragraph), proper alignment (centered works better on mobile than on desktop), and character count in a line (50-60 characters per line, with a maximum of 75 in certain cases)
Interaction (what happens when you scroll or click on an element)
Of course, the Internet is not static, like books or folders. Your customers can interact with content, and with that interaction comes feedback and usability of each action.If you do it right, your website will be more likely to be successful in terms of conversion. However, if you do it wrong, you might lose all of your potential leads in a second.
Think of clicking a button to submit a form. It seems natural that the button changes when you hover your pointer over it, and that the form clearly communicates that your information has been submitted properly, right?
Almost every interaction in web space has already been designed and user tested by someone else. In fact, scientists have used sophisticated eye-tracking equipment to find out how people interact with content online. They create standards based on behavioral studies.
Nowadays, there is no need to reinvent the wheel - interaction patterns are widely accessible and are almost guaranteed to work (if used properly). Additionally, there are tools that let you record and analyze your visitors’ interactions with your website.
Images (photos and illustrations)Photos and images are the easiest way to spice up the content of your website. Nobody likes to interact with dull, boring content.
A photo here and there might help you deliver the right message, and makes it a lot easier to read and understand the processes on your website. An image or an infographic is a great way to complement the content.
Studies have also shown that people like to click on photos, making them into even better conversion points than buttons in some cases.
AnimationsAnimation can be great, but it can also be dangerous. Too much animation is not the best of ideas, but when used properly, it can be a very successful tool to increase the amounts of your conversions.
A simple form element will be much more visible when appearing at the right moment (for example, with a slide-in from the side). Animations can also be triggered by scroll, mouse movements, or other interaction.
The options for its use should be there, but remember not to overdo it. Chaos is not the best tool to convert leads to customers.
User Experience (UX) and Usability
Your business is online and you have done everything to bring visitors to your website.
You have spent money on paid advertising or worked with your digital agency to get your business on the first page of Google. All of these are great efforts to capitalize on your online presence.
So -- what’s next?
People visit websites because they are looking for something. If they land on your site, it probably means that you can offer it to them. Now, all you have to do is remove all obstacles and lead them to their goal. This is where UX and Usability jump in.
Despite its name being similar to Web Design, User Experience Design is more about engineering than it is about looks. This is where design processes make it as easy as possible for your customers to commit to your offers.
Web Design & User Experience Guide
So what exactly is User Experience? Let’s break it down.
Know your clientJust like in physical stores, if you want to make your website as usable as possible, you need to know your clients. You also need to be able to predict their actions when they come. This might come from experience or from using tools to track and analyze traffic on your website.
Design your processes with your client in mindIf you want to create a great user experience, you need to think like your clients. Once you know who they are and what they are looking for, you can design the processes that lead them to their goals as intuitively as possible.
For example, if you are a plumbing business, you probably get lots of calls from people with an emergency that needs to be solved immediately. Think about what they will be looking for when they search ‘plumbing services’ and land on your website. Now, think about how relieved they will be when they see a big red button or a phone number with Need Emergency Plumbing Services? Call Now - we are here 24/7!
Take another example: let’s say that you install air conditioning units. Your clients most likely will want to know a little about you, your reputation, and the cost of your services. Give them what they want! Make sure that all of these elements work in an easy, smooth process, whether it is scrolling down a page or clicking through a series of sub-pages.
Do not assume that people will find what they are looking for on your website. Think like your clients and help them achieve their goals through the design of your UX processes.
Record and analyzeA few years ago, user experience recording was quite an expensive tool for companies. In order to record user behaviors, businesses had to use physical UX labs with cameras, eye-tracking equipment, and numerous field specialists.
Today, things are a bit simpler. There are tools that can help you achieve the same results with much less cost and effort. You can record users directly on your website and analyze your traffic using free tools like Google Analytics.
Don’t think that these tools will work without any effort. You should still go through the recordings, analyze tracking reports, and infer facts from funnels set up on your website.
A/B Multivariate TestingWhen you have all of your processes set up and working, you can still make it a lot better. Small changes like the color of a button can make a big difference. Sometimes, people struggle with a process that seems very simple and intuitive to you. In this case, testing is the best step. Compare different versions of your landing pages to see which one performs better.
You can use testing tools to (more or less) randomly send your visitors to different version of the same page. This lets you see which one performs the best. It’s called A/B or Multivariate Testing, and is a useful tool for User Centered Design.
Typically, you run this kind of test for a period of time to reach a reliable result and compare conversions in each version.
Landing Pages and Call to Actions (CTAs)Landing pages are a simple tool to lead your customers to their desired goal. If your goal is precisely defined and you are looking for specific clients with distinct needs, you can create a special page with minimum content focused on one process. These kinds of pages are called Landing Pages.
Call to Actions are clear and visible page elements that your customers should be able to easily see when they get to your website. If your goal is for your potential clients to fill out a contact form, make sure that form (or a button that leads to it) is clearly visible and accessible on all kinds of devices.
Web Design is one of the four main digital marketing principles that are common among all websites that rank high on Google. Together, they create what we call a healthy digital ecosystem.
If you are unclear on any of these concepts, you can apply for a free digital marketing consultation with one of our digital marketing experts or you can download our free Web Design and Usability (UX) Guide.