Web design in its essence is not about how fancy you code or what software/platform you use to create the site, it’s about the user experience.
Can users find what they need? Do they have the experience you would like them to have? At its most basic level, that is what a website is all about.
Thus, as you get started or just looking to pep up your current site, you must start with the single question, “What is the purpose of my site?” Ask yourself, “What do I want users to do – buy something, download or access content, read and share your content?”
The key to developing an effective website is its usability. Design is part of this but so are accessibility and overall site architecture.
Examining the User Experience
How you think your website is used and how it’s actually used are two separate things.
To evaluate your site or to get feedback as you develop, here are some resources I find useful.
Setting Up a Usability Study
To really see how users use your site, a small scale usability test is an enlightening experience.
You will need to recruit 3-5 people. They should vary from never/rarely using your site to power users. Create an online meeting with them utilizing software you can screen share (Zoom, Google Meet, etc), these sessions should be 45 minutes or less.
In a nutshell, create a list of actions you want to see in action. For example, purchase a thingy, download an ebook, sign up for my mailing. No more than 5-7 actions at the most.
Second, write a script – so you ask the questions exactly the same way to each participant. In the script, state you are evaluating the site not them – when they can’t find something it’s because of the site, and you will use this to make the site better.
I typically record sessions so I can review them – (make sure the participant is aware). Have them complete each action – and DON’T HELP them – trust me that will be the hardest part.
I promise you – you will learn more about your site in these sessions.
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