Importance of creating user-centered web design: Beginner’s guide

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Web design 101

Do you think that hiring a web designer can solve all your problems? Not unless they create a user-centered web design. 

Every digital marketer is running a race to impress the people who visit their websites. Apart from a good strategy and objective, many other things are needed in this race. One of the crucial things which undeniably works is user-centric web design

If your web page is appealing and focuses on what users like and need, you will automatically win the race. 

What is user-centered design?

User-centered design (UCD) is nothing but a perception in which designers focus on users and their needs at every stage of web designing. 

Intuitive design is how we give the user new superpowers. -Jared Spool

The goal of user-centered design is to combine user research and feedback during conception. Ideally, web designing is based on the needs and desires of the users.

3 reasons why user-centered design is important

Here are a few points to understand why UCD is a dominant factor in designing a website-

  • User behavior on a website affects the ability of search engines to rank websites and provide the best possible user experience. Investing in advanced UI (user interface) optimization, testing and SEO (search engine optimisation) will help your websites show up in the new world of priority mobile directories. 
  • When you understand users’ needs and incorporate their feedback into your design and development process, you can create effective products that meet user and business goals.
  • The people who visit your web page can be potential customers. Page elements are combined to serve them, not necessarily to promote products or services. A user-friendly web design allows companies to build a brand and ultimately turn more visitors into customers.

After all, what good is having a website if no one ever finds or uses it?

Steps to create a user-centric web design

Text with the word "steps" encircled and highlighted
Photo: Clayton Robbins on Unsplash

There are many steps in the user-centered design process, and they may vary according to the device, website, or app.

For a better understanding for a beginner, these are four must-follow steps.

Step 1- Understanding the context of the user

Is there any way you can start designing a web page without research? Certainly not. So, it begins with researching your user’s context. 

Define the characteristics of the user:

  • Who would use the product or service
  • What will they use the product/service for
  • Under what conditions will they use it

It means that in addition to the user, you need to consider the performance and environment as well.  

In this step, designers examine who their users are, what problems they face, and what contextual considerations motivate or influence their use of the product. Designers determine what interests the user about the product and how they use it.

Step 2- Strategizing the design

Developer pointing at notes on a whiteboard
Photo: Startae Team on Unsplash

UCD engages the user in the design process from start to finish. Therefore, designers are unlikely to make assumptions about design options or spend time on unnecessary and unwanted product features. Hence, strategizing the website design is a must. 

From our first step’s learnings:

  • Ideas will be presented
  • Possibilities and prototypes identified 
  • Solutions tested and perfected

Web designers need to take the cognitive needs of the customer into account, as they will help you determine what is important when designing a product.

Are you ready to design a web page now? Take a step back and listen to the users’ comments. Observe all the verbal and non-verbal responses as well. What exactly do the customers want? 

Related: Basics of user-friendly website layout design

Step 3- Creating a solid user-centric design

Now that you have found the problem and identified solutions, it is time to create a solid web design. For a beginner who doesn’t know anything about the user interface, learn a mantra: “Everything is based on design.”

This step is where designers get time to showcase their talent.

 

The common projects emerge, including:

  • Storytelling
  • Cartographic trips
  • Article framing
  • Creating complete models and user processes
  • Exploring various elements of the user interface
  • Defining effective web architecture

Don’t get confused if things change while designing a website. Web designers validate their projects every step of the way. If something doesn’t work, it’s important to understand what went wrong and find a better plan. 

With a user-centered approach, different aspects of the design must be tried and monitored. 

Step 4- Evaluating the design

The last step starts when the web designing team comes up with different user designs. It is time to evaluate the effectiveness of their designs in terms of user and business requirements. 

In this stage, testing is the most important tool. It determines how well these web designs are and will actually work.

Errors Errors Errors! Check for the errors

This is the right point to answer some questions such as: 

  • What went well? 
  • What failed? 
  • How did users react? 
  • How can we improve?

It is next to impossible for a design to meet all pre-determined goals and requirements during the first test. 

Photo showing a signboard reading "In design we trust"

Designers may need several cycles of the UCD process to develop a successful version that fulfills commercial and user goals.

That’s why UCD is a repetitive process. Once the process is complete, the next step is to return to step one with all the knowledge gained during the initial cycle.

The sooner a design is presented to real users and the web team gets their feedback, the easier it will be to find a better solution. 

There are many ways to perform tests and share valuable resources. But the most important thing is to take one step back and listen to user feedback. Observe their verbal and non-verbal reactions and document their answers well.

Takeaways

The user-centered design allows greater audience movement while the elements of the page are combined to serve the reader, not necessarily to promote any products or services. This design trend allows companies to invest in innovative tactics that lead to a more trustworthy brand and, ultimately, more conversions.

The UCD process continues to help companies create compelling products with high customer satisfaction. Knowing how to produce high-quality user-centric design can help keep your users happy and achieve your business goals.

The most important thing to remember when using UCD is to keep users engaged from the start and through all the following steps and iterations.

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Aman Jha is a digital marketing author, speaker, and SEO consultant and founder of content marketing agency MAXZOB. He is a sucker for ranking websites and generating millions of traffic. He has been working with many talented geeks and gathered all the experience about skyrocketing a business with SEO and content marketing. He loves sharing his experience via blogs about digital marketing and startups. By reading about his work, you can learn some of the finest SEO juices which no one leaks out. You can find Aman on LinkedIn.