User experience is not a new concept. Basically, its prescriptions are that each item has to be:
- Self-explanatory: the users will intuitively know what it is
- Useful: the users need it to solve a problem or satisfy a need
- User friendly: without any specific training, users can work with it
- Serve its purpose: the users obtain the expected result from using that item.
A Short History of User Experience
The concept of user experience became more and more important as personal computers became regular household items and several software suites were designed to be used by the general population, not a restricted number of specialists.
Thus, by trial and error at first and then by studying the users’ behaviors, specialists have determined a few core ideas defining great user experience. These concepts have survived into the internet and mobile age and are now applicable when we evaluate websites.
Website User Experience – What Are the Key Criteria?
When it comes to websites, their main functionalities are to provide users with information on the topic briefly outlined in its URL and meta-description. People access websites for a large variety of reasons:
- To learn something new
- To find a product or service they need
- To find a solution to a problem
- For entertainment purposes
- To get in touch with a business or an individual.
Irrespective of these reasons, websites users will continue browsing a website if it meets certain user experience criteria. These are the ways in which you can reach and offer an excellent user experience to everyone browsing your website:
People are less and less willing to spend time waiting for websites to load. If the link they clicked on does not fully load within seconds, they will search for another website. Slow loading websites usually have complex, disorganized code in their back end, with broken links and coding errors. The PageSpeed Insights tool made available by Google helps you identify the problems that make your website load slowly, and offers helpful tips to fix them.
Focus On the Top Left
People’s eyes are trained to focus on the top left corner – because this is how we read and write. This is why you should always place the most critical part of the information on your web page in this position. Your company logo and motto, the sign-up button, and any other important element of each web page in your website should be located in the top left part of the page.
“You Are Here”
You can find these helpful signs in large malls, museums or in tourist resorts. They show people their exact location and help them find their way around the place. This is one of the core rules of great user experience. By installing breadcrumbs, i.e. a browsing pathway starting from the home page and going from menu to sub-menu, people will never feel lost in your website and have the possibility either to return to the previous page or to the starting browsing point in one click.
Provide Redundancy for User Actions
It is easy to click on the wrong button at the wrong menu. It is even easier to make this mistake as you are tapping on a mobile screen. This is why we still keep confirmation message pop-ups, allowing people to correct a mistake by reconfirming their action. This is not only applicable for purchases made on online stores, but also when people click on the ‘Back’ button before completing a survey or filling in a form. If they did not want to navigate away, they will realize that they have to start filling in all over again.
In a nutshell, great user experience is when people get exactly what they want from your website quickly, efficiently and without having to waste time finding their way around. Any company providing people with excellent user experience on their website will be perceived as professional and trustworthy, and thus will gain more customers and a higher online reputation.