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Web design is a complex subject. Designers and developers have to consider both visual appearance (how the website looks) and functional design (how the website works). With so many things that you need to take into account, the process of design can be tricky. To simplify the task, we’ve prepared this guide for you.
In this guide, we’ll focus on the main principles, heuristics, and approaches that will help you create a great user experience for your website. We’ll start with global things, like user flows (how to define the structure of the website), and then work down to the individual page (what to consider during web page design). We’ll also cover other essential aspects of design, such as mobile considerations and testing.
The first thing to consider is your user flow, or the path by which the visitor will navigate through your website. After all, web page design isn’t about creating a collection of individual pages; it’s about creating flows. This path is a series of steps that the visitor takes from the entry point (the first page where they land) toward the specific action you want them to take (typically a conversion action, such as a sign-up, purchase, etc.). The following will help you determine your user flows as you design your website.
Information architecture (IA) is a discipline that allows you to organize information clearly and logically for your visitors. Information architects analyze how users structure information and create a hierarchy that aligns with the user’s expectations. Good IA is a result of solid user research and usability testing.
There are several ways to research user needs. Often, an information architect will take an active part in user interviews, card sorting, and moderated usability testing where they observe how people interact with the existing design and share their opinions on it.
Navigation is a cornerstone of usability. If visitors can’t navigate your website, they will most likely leave. That’s why the navigation on your website should adhere to a few principles:
Simplicity. Your navigation should help visitors understand how to get around on your site with the fewest clicks possible
Clarity. There shouldn’t be any guessing about what each navigation option means.
Consider a few things when designing navigation:
Links are a key element in web navigation. Their visual and functional design has a direct impact on usability. Follow a few rules with these interactive elements:
The “back” button is perhaps the most used button in the browser, so make sure it works according to user expectations. When a user follows a link on a page and then clicks the “back” button, they expect to return to the same spot on the original page. Avoid situations in which clicking “back” brings the user to the top of the initial page, instead of where they left off, especially on long pages. Losing their spot forces the user to scroll through content they have already seen, which leads to unnecessary interaction cost.
Breadcrumbs are a set of contextual links that function as a navigation aid on websites. It’s a secondary navigation scheme that usually shows the user’s location on a website.
While this element doesn’t require a lot of explanation, a few things are worth mentioning:
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