We are all familiar with this paradoxical riddle. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg. In some way, this riddle is similar to what we are going to discuss today. Which comes first: website design or user experience?
The answer: neither.
Both are equally as important.
Let me give you an analogy. Say you want to buy a house. You approach a real estate agent and he shows you around the neighbourhood and you look at some houses. The first thing that you might notice is that you will be naturally attracted to houses that show more personality in its design, or have a greater aesthetic appeal.
However, would the design alone be sufficient to close the deal?
I would doubt so. Before you make the decision to purchase the house, you would probably go to check the layout of the house and make sure that the house has been soundly designed, that the space each room gives fits your needs and so on so forth.
The same thing applies with a website. The decision to stay on a website is two folds. Both the visual aspect of the website as well as its overall using experience contributes to the final decision and here is why.
Good design creates good first impression
In a busy world, the first thing that people consider when they decide if they want to invest time in is the impression they get from it.
Needless to say, everything on this earth can make an impression.
However, not all forms of impression are desirable to a business. In fact, businesses are only interested in impressions that are beneficial to them.
A beneficial impression would be something like a positive first impression. First impressions, in general, are known to last longer than regular impressions and are also known to impact a user’s decision to stay or leave. While a positive first impression would encourage users to hang around longer, a negative one is more likely to have users call it quits faster.
This concept applies even for websites. For a website, while visitors land on pages that contain the information that they have searched for, the first thing that they encounter is not the content they were searching for but the page design.
Then in a matter of seconds, an impression is created. This impression would sculpt the way your visitor perceives your business and also plays a role in determining whether or not they want to continue to interact with your brand.
Besides creating a good impression, design can also be used to convey trust to the audience . A website with a good design can help users trust the business’s authority, the validity of the content they put out, and their products and services.
Good user experiences encourage conversions
On the other end, we have user experience. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, user experience is defined as the combination of usability, ease of use and the pleasure provided.
User experience direct its attention to how end-users would experience the website. Of course, we are not denying the fact that the aesthetic designs of the website will not help in the construction of the user’s experience. Rather, the outlook of the website is just the epidermis of user experience.
Several other aspects plays a role in the creation of user experience. In 2014, Peter Morville and his friends came up with the user experience honeycomb, a diagram that described all facets of user experience.
From this diagram, we are able to piece together what a website with good user experience entails.
- It can be used in practical situations.
- It can be easily used.
- It can evoke appreciation and emotions.
- Things can be easily found.
- Things can be quickly attained.
- Site feels trustworthy.
- Site delivers value.
A site that sports good user experience can be identified through a variety of factors. There are some general guidelines that will help boost your user experience. One, for example, is to have a quick page load time. Page load time refers to the time it takes to fully display the content on a specific page. It is widely accepted, and found true, that pages that load faster tend to convert better.
Besides having your page load faster, another factor that can affect the user experience is in the form design. Forms are used in anticipation that a visitor will fill it in and provide you with either their contact information or a business opportunity. However, if the form requires too much time or effort to complete, they may end up abandoning it midway.
The importance of having a site with good user experience rests not in the fact that it would leave you with a happy customer. More so, a site that offers good user experience is one that would help boost your conversion rate.
Here is why both are important.
The purpose of any website is to bring about conversion. Whether the conversion is done online or offline, it is largely secondary. However, all businesses would agree that it is the primary purpose of a website.
Some people may still be living in the concept where design and user experience are two separate things. And this thinking cannot be anymore false. Web design and user experience do not work, or functions in silos.
As seen from the above two points, both design and user experience are important in the website’s conversion process. In fact, they complement each other’s purpose.
While a good design would encourage visitors to stay on and interact further with the website, it would still be meaningless if the user is met with a site that loads slowly, or forms that is too complicated to complete. In fact, it may chase away users that have originally been impressed through the design of the website.
On the flipside, if the users are treated to a good user experience, it would encourage them to convert. However, if the design of the website at first glance does not deliver a strong first impression or worse, does not convey signs of trust, the business may face a problem of being unable to retain customers to begin with.
Therefore, when designing a website, it is important to place equal emphasis on user experience and design. By itself, they are able to do a lot for the business. However, they are only able to tap on their full potential when married together for the common cause.