The concept of user-centered design has grown in popularity in recent years. While it may seem simple on the surface, the use of the word “design” belies a concept that is much deeper than simply creating an appealing appearance or aesthetic to a product.
User-centered design is about the entire environment and strategy that goes into creating a product, from its initial conception through the sales process and on to the customer service and support that follows, all with the end-user in mind.
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It combines the performance of the product with the desire for it to create a positive overall experience. At its roots, user-centric design is a mantra, a commitment, an experience — and that includes your website. Click To Tweet
User-Centered Design Matters on Your Site
While it’s easy to point to the product design team or a set of rigorous quality assurance test as keys to a good user-centered experience, a company’s website plays a critical role in carrying that user-centered experience forward along the way.
It not only serves as a storefront in which customers can learn about and purchase a product or service, but it also provides contact information and even direct customer service at times.
With that said, it’s critical that a business’s website incorporates a user-centered design that communicates from the user’s perspective and imbues a level of respect for the customer that comes from their position of understanding, emotions, and desires. It should also provide easy to access, as well as prompt communication channels for both questions and support.
With all of this in mind, let’s break down a few of the different elements that a well-implemented user-centered design incorporates as well as how those elements can help improve the overall user experience of your site.
Keeping Up Appearances
One of the most obvious ways that user-centered design impacts a company’s website is through the appearance of the site itself. Click To Tweet Some things about a site’s design are apparent from the getgo, such as color schemes and logos. However, other more subtle design elements can play just as important a part.
For example, minimalism has come to play a crucial role in many successful websites. The concept of keeping everything from colors to text, pictures, and even the layout as simple as possible provides a space for customers to enter and engage with your brand without feeling overwhelmed.
Consider fonts as a specific example. The fonts that many companies use are purposefully chosen to provide larger, more comfortable text that’s easy on the eyes, all in the name of keeping customers happy and satisfied as they engage with your site. It may make a minor difference on the site’s overall appearance when taken a face value, but its more subtle effects can be quite profound.
Of course, a design that’s easy on the eyes isn’t going to do much good unless it backs it up with a holistic, customer-centric approach to the entire user experience as well.
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This includes things like site loading speeds and ease of site navigation. Additionally, it also takes into account where the customer is in their journey through the process of learning about and (hopefully) ultimately purchasing your products or services.
It doesn’t matter if your site helps generate leads, informs customers, or straight up takes them by the hand and walks them through the entire sales process — a focus on the entire user experience is a key element to user-centric design.
The concept of businesses building trust with their clientele is an old one, and it is still as relevant as ever in the modern day. Things like products and customer service should be built around a user experience that provides a level of dependability and consistency. It should foster trust between your brand and the customer. In the same vein, a company’s website should be designed to create a predictable experience that is comfortable and consistent.
For example, if financial or personal information is required at any point, simply purchasing some business insurance just in case you lose everyone’s information is hardly approaching the situation from the customer’s perspective. Instead, careful and obvious steps should be taken to make sure that a customer’s data is treated with respect and caution. Any forms and financial payment should be processed through safe and secure methods. Click To Tweet
This builds on the comfort and respect that is initially laid out by your sites appearance and user experience, further developing that all important trust.
Finally, as hinted at more than once already, remember that a website with a good user-centered design isn’t just created to facilitate a user’s experience or develop trust, it’s also made to engage with customers on their terms. For instance, the simple act of adding titles and descriptions to your videos and images or including transcripts for the hearing impaired shows that you’ve created a space that is inclusive and takes all users into account.
If you can naturally demonstrate that you’ve come to the user through your site’s design, rather than vice versa, it can do wonders in fostering that all-important relationship that you build with your customers.
The Power of User-Centered Design
A good user-centered design leverages the power of elements like navigation, load times, fonts, colors, and overall appearance to create an experience that focuses on the user from one end to the other. It never deviates from the user’s perspective and helps to foster a positive opinion from the customer towards the company.
While user-centered design may be a buzz word at the moment, the genuine, age-old concept of focusing on the customer still stands tall, and when implemented correctly, can completely revolutionize a company’s website for the better.
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