view of table with people who are WordPress Experts writing on post-it notes and wireframes of website designs.

In today’s internet era, user experience is important. It goes hand in hand with content, and design to offer a cohesive experience overall. In the past, programmers built a site’s design around “User Interface” or UI.  Today, the focus has shifted towards “UX” or user experience embracing the entirety of the experience vs. just the interface. So, let’s talk more about what UX or User Experience is and why it’s important.  As mentioned above, User Experience looks at the entirety of the experience which includes how the site is used and perceived by the visitor.  The focus is on the functionality, content, and design overall and ensuring consistency and cohesiveness across the site.  All of these together enable the user to navigate and explore the site with ease, creating a positive perception.

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

Steve Jobs, Apple

User Experience is important for your unique population.

Users are different, and their experiences will be different as well. Most of the factors that evaluate a website’s quality depend on human perception.  Human perception is one of the broadest things to observe and comprehend! Therefore, defining your main target and focusing on it is essential. You cannot satisfy everyone! To be successful, one should focus on your primary consumers as well as your key offering or product. Having this focus will help with creating a positive brand image as well as keeping your site easily navigable. Remember, user experience is more than just the website interface, it is the whole package including design, functionality, and consistency across the site.

So who is your audience?

Only after you have your audience well defined, can you begin to really tackle the user experience for your audience. Example:  A brain injury website

This particular service organization served persons with brain injury and their loved ones. Based on research, a crucial part of the design of their site was color coding and ensuring consistency with colors based on the section of the site. For example, the resources section had a header that was green. For consistency and ease of use, all the pages in the resources section had a green header. When the users entered another section, the About Us section, it was blue and again all pages in the About Us section had a blue header.

Knowing the target audience was key to researching the design of the site for the best user experience. It was found that color-coded navigation was easier for people with traumatic brain injury to navigate.  First, they had to define the audience, then research the best ways the target audience could receive the information, and finally define their plan to create the best user experience. You can only address these optimizations after some experimentation and broad observation of your primary audience. Think about the things that your site might offer and values like findability, quality of content, visual appeal, credibility, and inherent value on the experience as a whole.  Next, think about content, although this does not mean that content is not important.

Where do I start?

A good place to start is to simply watch people use your site and ask them. Below are two tools that will help you gather data on how users are using your site and a visual of their experience. Additionally, you can ask your clients for feedback as they are your target audience. Analyzing this data can help you look at the bigger picture and see where you can make improvements in the overall user experience.

Hotjar Analytics

Free and paid plans – allows you to record the screen of a user as they view and experience your website. Hotjar also provides heatmaps that give you a visual of where your visitors look on your page as well as scroll distance.

User testing is one of several paid services where you can run user tests and receive feedback from people who visit and interact with your site.

Evolution and technology’s speed have gone a long way to transform and develop our online experiences, from their crude beginnings to the recent and very polished experiences. As you can see, user experience is important when designing your site.  Thanks to the customizability and flexibility of WordPress, we have a great tool to craft and optimize the UX of your website.