SUMMARY: Good web design is not just “hey that looks great.” It’s how you use research and user experience for better conversion rates from your visitors.
Developing a website is an expensive endeavor both in time and in money. Once the site is up and running, you want to see a return on your investment. If you take the time to research and plan, you will have a better chance of seeing that return on investment. Good web design comes from the intersection of your customer’s values and the values of your company. How do you find this intersection? You start with research.
Believe it or not, good web design does not start with a creative graphic designer. Good web design begins with learning what your target market is looking for and how you are going to address those needs. If you are unsure about who your target market is, you can reference an article I wrote on the best ways to identify your target market.
In that article, I talk about addressing your audience’s state-of-mind when they are looking for a product. Your audience will have similarities that go beyond their need for your product. There will be pre-conceived expectations that they bring with them as well as design conventions that you may need to address. Learning about these before you start the design process can avoid confusion with the visitor and keep them on the site longer.
For example, when we start a web design project, we not only cover the basics of the content for the site, but we do a deep dive into the target market and the pain points of that market. It is this research and the understanding we gain that will help develop a design that is more in line with the needs of your audience. In identifying those needs, we can produce better conversion results from the traffic of the site. Another benefit of implementing this research into the design process will help in developing a better user experience as well.
User experience is key to any successful design. It is important to remember that with user experience, the user dictates its success and not the designer. Please don’t get the wrong impression; I am not discrediting the importance of a good web designer. However, good web design is the merging of what you learn from researching your audience with a great layout.
We tend to forget that a visitor to your site has no idea what you expect them to do. They have their views on how your website should work. For the design to be successful, the path has to be clear, and confusion for the visitor leads to abandonment. Focusing on the user’s experience is essential to the ROI of the website.
Good web design is not about “hey, that looks pretty cool.” Instead, it is about placing the elements of the page where the user expects them to be and to function the way they expect them to perform. A visitor comes to your site with certain biases, and knowing those before you start the design process makes for better user experience and a better functioning web design.
When a visitor comes to the site, and it meets their expectations, you have less chance that the visitor will bounce. Their expectations come in the form of how you are going to solve their problem and how easily they can find the path to that solution. The less they jump to another site, the better your conversion rate will be.
Emphasizing research and learning about your audience and taking what you learn to create a design for them (not you) are the keys to good web design. The value you receive from doing this research will be in the form of a better user experience with more of your visitors becoming customers. When research and user experience come together, you will see a better ROI from your website.