Monthly Archives: March 2017

Reviews for Web Designers

A great UX review can do wonders for any website. By looking over the entire design you can learn what’s working, what’s not, and maybe find solutions that can increase the UX and ultimately increase revenues.

But learning how to conduct a review is the first step to solving problems and creating a better experience. In this guide I’ll cover the basics of a UX review and how you can get started running your own.

This does require some background in UX design but it also relies on basic principles of making great websites. If you’re willing to learn and put in some elbow grease then a UX review of your own website can be a great opportunity for growth.

Conducting a Review

The goal of a UX review is to comb over an entire site and find spots for improvement. These spots could be obvious or they could be small, but you should aim to improve the site as a whole.

You should always aim to study objective trends and find statistics that back up your ideas. Designers aren’t always the most quant-oriented people but it’s a necessity in a good UX review.

Try to avoid vague opinions or how things feel to you personally. Instead gather user feedback and study traffic trends to gather ideas for where problems could be and why they’re happening.

Each technique offers a different perspective for studying the same website. UX reviews can try to improve everything or focus on one specific task like high bounce rates, signup rates, or time on page.

If you’re working on a personal project then you can set the metrics yourself. But client projects require collaboration because you’ll need to know what the company wants to improve.

The initial stage of a UX review is about information gathering moreso than anything else. Once you have enough raw data you’ll begin to see patterns, and these patterns can lead to insights for solving the tasks you’re faced with.

 Planning Specific Goals

It’s easy to keep asking yourself questions and never really coming to detailed conclusions. But with specific goals you’ll be forced to study certain metrics and try to solve for very specific end results.

Think about the goals you need to aim for and what they mean. A high bounce rate means people leave the first page they enter. But are they on that page for a while? If yes, then they’re probably finding the information they need and leaving.

But what if it’s a landing page? Then people are leaving because they’re not interested. But why? Maybe they just don’t see the CTA button to sign up, or maybe they don’t understand what the page is for.

The planning phase goes beyond just goal setting. You’ll need to look into a few points:

  • What is the problem(or problems)?
  • Why do these problems exist? What is the cause?
  • What is the end result you’re looking for?
  • How can you move from the current state to one that solves these problems?

By repeating these steps over and over you’ll find new problems, look for new solutions, and leave yourself a big ground for testing. There’s never a fully completed project so there’s always room for more optimization.

Another step is creating believable personas that can fit into your target audience.

These are like marketing segments that may visit your website and be looking for a certain experience. And these general demographics can have very different goals that you need to support. UX designers go so far as to find custom CC photos for personas because they can make a difference.

Web Design Trends 2017

1. Gradients

Missing from the design landscape for a few years, gradients are making a major comeback. But the look of the color blurring technique has shifted.

The most popular usage is a two color gradient overlay on photos. (This technique can look absolutely amazing!) It’s a great option to switch up your look or to make a less-than-interesting photo a little more intriguing. You can also use a gradient background to draw the eye when you don’t have other imagery to work with.

2. Video with Sound

People are becoming more accustomed to watching videos – from short bits of YouTube to movies – on their devices. Websites can mimic this cinematic experience as well with a full-on video with sound display on the homepage. (It does not have to be auto-play to be effective.)

Proceed with caution. Include an option to toggle sound off and on, because not all users will appreciate it. The content needs to be so stellar that users will demand sound as part of the experience. (This is a trend that can be tough to pull off but can work beautifully if you have the right video and sound content combination.)

3. Super Simple Homepages

More designs will start to strip away the type heavy homepage styles that have been popular for a while. More designers are opting for design that feature only a word or two on the first screen of the design.

And before you worry about SEO, these pages are often packed with plenty of information below the scroll. This is a great example of how user habits are changing web design as a whole. Thanks to plenty of scrolling on mobile websites, users are scrolling more on websites regardless of device. This makes it easier to design a light, airy hero area and pack the design with content on the scroll.

Here’s the trick: Just make sure to give users enough in this simple design to make them want more so that they will engage in scrolling behaviors.

4. More Tactile Design

Web design is rooted in physical things. It started with Material Design and the development of more tactile planes and layering of objects. This interface trend is expanding to the visuals as well.

Designers are much more rooted in reality. This includes images, rather than illustrations, and plenty of elements that feel like the user can reach out and touch them. The images are more natural as well, featuring elements that are made from materials found in nature and crafted into usable objects.

5. Neutral Color Palettes

Tactile principles will carry over into color palettes as well. While the last two years have been some of the most colorful we have seen in web design that is going to shift to a more natural, neutral set of hues.

Look for more greens, beiges and muted tones in projects. Color palettes will be derived from the natural world and have less of a bold, bright, almost-neon look to them.

6. Wearables Influence the Web

Small design will influence everything else. Very much in the way a mobile-first design mentality has impacted the way all websites work, a wearable-first approach will most specifically impact app design. (You’ll want your app to work on a phone or a watch, right?)

This influence will likely change the look and complexity of some mobile apps. We might see larger typography and more minimal styles emerge. With so many users opting to buy wearables of some sort and wanting those interactions to replicate on other devices, this method of design is destined to happen sooner rather than later.

Features That are Missing from Web Design

1. Web Design That’s not Unique to Your Industry & Brand

Your web design is the first impression a visitor will have about the business. This page should not only be reflective of your industry, products or services, but it should stand out from competition and reflect your company culture. The Following should be considered:

  • Design should attract and imprint in the memory of your visitors to create “awareness”
  • Content should create a narrative to ‘tell your story’ through the website.

Make sure that your web design is unique and recognizable. Distinct visual approach & style, typography and interactive design elements play a big role in this department. All this creates the first impression in your visitor’s head and is crucial for the next interaction with your website.

A great example of this aspects is the creative WordPress theme TheGem recently released on Themeforest marketplace. This theme understands the need for individuality, creativity, awareness and interaction, offering many industry specific unique design concepts . When going through the demo pages of this theme you will see how different industry stories can be told in an attractive visual way, involving the user in interaction and remaining in his/her memory.

2. No Trending UX and UI Features

Even though your page visitor might not be able to pinpoint the exact reason why don’t find your website appealing, their subconscious will pick up that your page is sub-standard. Trending features within design can take a variety of forms, but for the last few years, these features are taking the front seat for UX and UI.

  • Scroll Jacking is where the user’s scrolling is directed to an exact vertical point on the screen, such as the top of the next content container. It’s replaced native scrolling and is more targeted. Here are some examples for that:
    1. Design for Your Satisfaction
    2. Lookbook
    3. Brilliance of Perfectio
    4. Material Design and Flat 2.0: As Google launched their new style language, Material Design, the designers got an opportunity to evolve minimalistic flat design principles in something more attractive, combining it with some old yet pretty features of skeuomorphic design (for instance through layering). This is aimed at making designs appear more realistic and appealing to the visitor. You can check some examples of creative flat 2.0 realisation on this pa

3. Your Web Page Is Not Working Well on Mobile

48% users say that if they arrive on a business site that isn’t working well on mobile, they take it as an indication of the business simply not caring. (Source: MarginMedia.com) Not having a responsive website is almost as good as not having a website at all. Businesses need to have responsive web design in order to give them online credibility. As Noetiforce explains; ‘Responsive Web Design is the DNA of modern web applications’.

If you are starting to design your website, start with the mobile version first, before you expand your creative power on the desktop version. You shouldn’t worry about possible design limitations of such approach – just take a look at amazing designed creative WordPress Themes on Themeforest; many of them, like TheGem, were created with the mobile-first approach in mind.

Through studying the trends of modern web design, we can deduct what works well online, and what doesn’t. This article is aimed at taking a look at where your website might be lacking. Although we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover; we do it anyway. With the focus on great UX and UI, you can ensure that the users will be buying in on your product and services because of high quality design, trending features, a great user interface, brilliant functionality and a page that performs at the speed of light.

4. No Search Functionality

In this digital age, web users want their needs met immediately. A split second can change their minds, and not being able to navigate or search for what they want on your page, will drive them to the competitors. A Search bar is of utmost importance whether it’s to search for blog content for a certain keyword, or a product or service on the page. Again, it’s about making the interaction and engagement with your page as easy and seamless as possible.

 

Practices of Hotel Website Design

Is an integral part of any website design and there is no doubt about that. However if there’s a single industry where user experience matters more than anything else is, of course, hospitality.

Hospitality is all about meeting and exceeding guest expectations and providing stellar guest experience from the very first touch point till the last.

And in the digital era that we live in, hotel website is quite often where the guest experience with a hotel starts. At least that’s what every hotel brand strives for: direct bookings. So as a hotel owner you want to make sure the user experience of your website is as good as the guest experience in the hotel itself.

To do so you need to understand why travelers visit your website in the first place. What are the main traveler intentions? Once you know the answer to this question, you will be able to meet traveler expectations with a matching, user-friendly website.

As a designer you will need a little bit more insights into hospitality industry and traveler behavior analysis to come up with a well-thought user experience flow that actually converts.

According to a study conducted by Google, on average 60% of travelers are turning to search engines first vs. hotel website for online trip planning.

 Generally, these are the main guest intentions when visiting a hotel website.

Now let’s see how exactly we can design the user experience to cater to those needs.

1. Optimize Booking Flow for Conversions

This should be your mantra. Nothing else matters, not your aesthetics or taste, not even user’s taste. You might think this is not how user experience should work, but as long as the website converts well, you are doing the right thing. And that said there is no success formula for a hotel website.

However, there are some best practices you should consider.

FIrstly, the booking window should always be in a visible spot and be clear with less design and more usability.

Secondly, users need to be able to compare room types, rate types easily to make decisions quickly. We need to help them decide by clearly articulating rate differences and providing a good amount of visuals for room types.

2. Think Mobile First

There is no need to explain the importance of having a mobile ready website. But we should stress the benefits of thinking mobile first, which means designing for mobile screens first and then taking it all the way to the biggest screens possible.

This is especially important for travel industry where users make purchase/booking decisions on the go and there is a sense of urgency, which means you need to design for maximum usability rather than maximum functionality. Although it is best to provide the same functionality to mobile users as to the web users, but if you can’t, you might want to provide a link to view the full website.

3. Visual is Key

When it comes to hotel bookings, users crave high quality photos of every single corner of your hotel, including hotel grounds, indoor, exterior, all of the facilities and especially room photos. One of the reasons users check multiple websites before booking is to find the most accurate information about the hotel, better quality photos, videos to make a more informed decision.

As a part of flawless hotel user experience, it is important to create a visually compelling website. Keep in mind though that visually heavy website tend to load slowly which is a huge issue for mobile users.  According to Kissmetrics, “40% of people will abandon a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load.”

So be sure to implement all of the techniques for faster loading.

These will make the user feel the difference when booking with a hotel directly.

4. Top It With Credibility and Social Proof

One of the most important factors affecting customer buying decisions is social proof, which comes in so many different forms: testimonials, reviews, video blogs, social following, etc. Hotel guests are no exception. In fact, according to Tripadvisor, “77% of travelers always reference reviews before booking travel accommodation”. But the tricky part here is the source of the reviews.