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Rules for Modern User Experience (UX) Etiquette
When someone visits your website for the first time, are they able to easily find the information they need or accomplish the task that landed them on your page? Can visitors easily read the text? Or have you committed UX (user experience) blunders that makes them want to take their business elsewhere?
UX determines how your site's visitors feel about you and your brand, and just like good manners, there's a certain etiquette that helps you make a good impression online.
Follow the UX guidelines below to welcome visitors and increase the chance they'll become repeat consumers.
1. Know your audience
When you meet someone, you often ask about their interests and background. Likewise, you need to understand what your website audience wants and needs so you can provide the right information and help. What feels intuitive to you might not translate to your typical consumer, who doesn't necessarily share your background, educational level, or technical savvy.
- Create a list of top three tasks your audience is trying to accomplish. If you don't know what those are, ask them through surveys or in person conversations.
2. Use color as a guide
Making things easy for people is good manners. On the web, one way to help people is to use color to orient users and show them how to navigate your site.
- Use a consistent color for similar types of content — for example, you may decide to make all call-to-action buttons or links green.
- Draw attention to the most important parts of your website by using bold colors.
- Convert your website to grayscale to ensure that the color contrasts on your pages are easily legible for everyone, including color blind visitors.
3. Get to the point
It' s not polite to babble on about yourself or to waste other people's time. On the web too, irrelevant, long-winded, and self-centered content is not done.
- Only include relevant and valuable information.
- Make sure copy is easy to scan — use headings, bullet points, and generous spacing.
- Optimize load times so people don't have to wait around.
4. Avoid drastic changes
Part of the reason for etiquette is to ensure every one knows what's expected behavior so we can focus on enjoying each other's company. When it comes to your site, don't spring a complete design overhaul on your visitors overnight. Users dislike it when brands they rely on make sudden, dramatic changes to their appearance.
- If you anticipate making significant changes to your site, do so gradually. For example, fade brighter colors over time, or slowly turn up the volume on colors you intend to intensify.
5. Use a friendly and consistent font
The right typeface puts people at ease and ensures readability.
- Use a font that's common and easy to read, like Georgia or Verdana.
- Use at least a 14-point font.
- Choose a single font family that contains different variations that are designed to work together. This way you'll be able to select font weights (like light and bold) and styles (like italic) to highlight text on your site without adding visual clutter and chaos.
6. Make it easy to navigate
Designing your site's navigation is a bit like giving people directions. Keep it simple and figure out the easiest way to get there.
- Make people scroll rather than click around. Just make sure that your users understand the direction they should scroll in, and that they can find important information by continuing to scroll.
- Don't make your pages too long.
- Check your pages are mobile-friendly.
- Always include a search field for those who want to search for something specific.
7. Test your changes
Check in with the users to ensure they are OK with design changes you have in mind.
- Get feedback on your design through user testing, which can be as formal as setting up a testing lab and as informal as asking people at your local coffee shop to try navigating your new site and accomplishing specific tasks.
- Try out user testing software for monitoring user behavior. Such software can provide important insights you can use for future design changes.
As you prepare to improve your site's UX, remember that the aim of UX is to offer your users a site that allows for a seamless and pleasant experience —a nice look and a functional site makes a good first impression and strengthens your brand.