The web can be a treacherous place for consumers in search of fresh, insightful content. The Internet is littered with websites bloated by poor architecture, sluggish load times, and stale design better left to the ‘90s along with cast-off pagers and the bristly ghost of George Clooney’s man-bangs.
In a hyper-competitive marketplace, it isn’t enough to simply have a web or social media presence. To drive your brand (and traffic), both must be built, updated, and curated with your messaging and buyer persona in mind. Even with great content, bad user interface (UI) can quash your inbound marketing goals almost as quickly as having no presence at all.
Consider your favorite websites and applications. You enjoy them because they’re immersive, easy to use, and allow you to accomplish your tasks—whether it’s reading the news, organizing projects, or browsing the latest in cat fashions—with a minimum of fuss. They add efficiency and value to your life. That’s a sign of good UI design. When planning the kind of user experience you want to provide, be sure to address the issues below before your site goes live.
UI Design: Form
Making a good first impression
For most visitors, the way your website looks will inform how they first view your business. An overwrought, cluttered aesthetic can be just as off-putting as one that is too sterile. Try not to go all in on garish color schemes or cute fonts, which can make even a new site feel outdated. Remember that stock photos are usually obvious and can seem impersonal (not to mention corny), so include them judiciously. No one actually looks that excited to be using a fax machine in real life.
Using design to create a narrative that guides your users
In the mockup stage, one of the most important things you can do is ensure that your site’s visual hierarchy leads the eye naturally through the use of headers, sizing, and color. Links should be clearly distinguishable from plain text. Anything that makes viewing difficult will result in lost page views, so combine palettes, fonts, and images to create a unified theme.
UI Design: Function
Ensuring ease of use
Good UI features natural, streamlined navigability. Responsive design shows thoughtful use of transitions, animations, and pop-outs to make interaction with the site feel dynamic without being unnecessarily busy. Provide clear paths from services and specialties to portfolios to further encourage visitors to explore and familiarize themselves with your company’s work.
Combining convenience for you as well as your users
Your site should also serve your content strategy. Implement management options for your inbound marketing material, so that you can easily post blogs and videos, and update social media accounts. If your interface can be used effortlessly to add new content, your users can benefit from the influx of information and engage more fully with it by commenting and sharing.
UI Design: Format
Consistency and ease of use
Accessibility is key to creating an agile, enjoyable experience for visitors. A site that scales well with a layout that is as easy to use on desktops, phones, and tablets helps to provide a seamless transition across multiple devices. Test your site on several platforms, operating systems, and browsers to ensure your UI design holds up under varied parameters.
Testing, with threats or bribery if necessary
If possible, get your QA team (or in the absence of a QA team, staff members you’ve plied with baked goods), to load and explore a staged version of the new website on different smart phones and mobile devices to catch any bugs in the display or functionality that should be fixed before release.
On the web, bad UI can be hard to avoid, but with some attention to a few common issues, you can sidestep a tragic design mistake that can hobble your marketing efforts. A well-designed website does a lot of the work for you by funneling traffic and interest where you want it. The time you save will allow you to focus on generating more creative, incisive content with measurable results.