line drawing of a light bulb

“How do you use this?” is a question no one should ever have to ask when they land on your webpage.  People looking for a new website often just want something that looks good and serves its audience with a good experience.  There are a lot of websites on the internet,  many of those sites do not achieve these needs.  “UX” (user experience) and “UI” (user interface) are industry terms that often seem to be an unknown to non-industry people, and are terms that are directly relevant to how “usable” a site can be.  It’s important to know them, and it’s important to know why they’re so important.

UI is a tool that is used to achieve a UX  How the site is laid out and what elements are used are two major factors in this bag of tricks.  These really are not interchangeable terms – though they are often used this way, incorrectly.  Your site should not only be a fancy bag of tricks, it should also be an experience.  When a site is being designed it needs to have careful attention paid to layout and structure so that no matter what is added or removed, the integrity and direction of the site is not lost.

For an experienced web designer this can be very easy to see and implement, but for someone that doesn’t know exactly what to look for, it can be easily overlooked, and when applied incorrectly can be detrimental to your audience using the site. That being said, it’s also an easy thing to not consider when a person is looking for a designer or a developer to “come up with something” for them.

So how can you make sure that, even if you don’t know all about these two things, you will have a site that is usable and looks great?  The main ingredients of great website design are its navigation, content, and interface. Navigation is really the bulk of what is needed to a smooth user experience. A small amount of magic can also come into play, but that depends on the development team.

You want your navigation links to have pertinence to your service or product, and you want it to be straightforward.  As someone walks through the site, this is the main ingredient that will encourage the user to click around.  Content comes into play when you want people to stay on the site (the extended experience).  Pictures, words, videos, anything that is relevant, unique, and interesting is usually good.  When it comes to interface, as long as it can be read on any device, and is extendable, it’s probably good.  We use the Drupal CMS mainly at Plan Left because it fulfills all of our design and UX needs, and also has better security than other interfaces. As for Magic, just make sure you hire the right guys to do the job!

Good luck building your site!  Send us any questions you think we can help with.

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