Digital marketing conversations always involve SEO—as well as they should. Search-engine optimization is what puts your website in front of the most eyeballs and especially gets the attention of people who are looking for the exact goods and services you offer.
But what those eyeballs see when they get there is even more important. We want to drive people to your site, and then we want them to have a great time—whether they need a specific piece of information about your company or they’re just exploring you and what you do.
What we’re talking about is user experience (UX, UE, or sometimes “userex”). See, making a website “look good” is only a little part of the UX battle. We want it to be clear, well organized, and easily usable. And that’s where lots of less-experienced website designers can really struggle.
What is Intuitive Design?
User experience goes hand-in-hand with something called “intuitive design.” Basically, when someone visits your website, we want them to just know, instinctively, how to get around on it and find all the information they’re looking for (and sometimes even more than that).
Just like we don’t want someone thinking about the words when they’re reading our copy, we also don’t want someone thinking about the design when they use our sites. We just want them to get it, pain-free, ASAP.
Intuitive design applies to everything these days—from the car you drive to the card reader at the grocery store checkout. Even your TV, bathroom sink and kitchen gadgets all have to obey the rules of intuitive design or risk a bad user experience.
Have you ever stared at an ATM, gas pump, or parking meter and not had any idea what they wanted you to do, or in what order, with which buttons? You probably felt panicked, frustrated, or even angry, right? Those are not emotions we want people associating with your brand!
Same goes for website navigation. The information has to be grouped to different pages and menus, labeled succinctly to communicate those groupings, and linked in ways that take people where they need to go—and not through an endless series of pages and clicks* that they don’t need.
What Makes Website Design Intuitive?
As with so many aspects of design, the quality comes down to a combination of real, measurable facts, as well as subjective factors.
But here are some UX variables I think about frequently when I’m designing a site—and also when I’m looking at other people’s poorly designed sites.
Straightforward Organization: Group website topics, tools, functions, etc. according to common sense. Don’t throw
Be Consistent: Make sure you’re clear with what terms like “about,” “contact” and “services” entail with regards to your specific business. Every time those terms are used, especially with links to landing pages, they should be referring to the same collection of information. Users may only encounter information in one place, so make sure it’s the same everywhere.
Be Open with Your Info: Make topics visible. Drop-down menus are great for getting everything into a small space right up top, but you also want your topics to be seen through scrolling alone. Put everything out there as much as you can.
Offer Multiple Points of Entry: Give people a home page menu, a footer on every page, a menu landing page listing all of your services and linking to their own individual pages, too. Build redundancy into your design so that people don’t have to dig around for a single access point. If you only offer certain services at certain times, communicate that on the service’s page and wherever your hours are listed.
Anticipate User Needs and Expectations: When someone clicks on an “about” link from your home page, they might be looking for your company’s history, the services you offer, or just your hours or contact info. Make sure they’re taken to a page where they either see this information, or they see links for it.