Strategically improve your website with UX design

Follow these simple UX design principles to instantly improve user experience for your website visitors and watch as your conversions skyrocket.

May 25th, 2022

9 min read
Tasmin LofthouseTasmin Lofthouse

Your website is the face of your business.

It’s the place people go when they want to learn more about your business. It’s where potential clients will land after searching for something on Google or visiting your social media pages.

Keeping your website in good working order is critical for turning website visitors into loyal clients and customers. The look, feel and usability of your website has the power to influence how people feel about your business. 

The secret to creating a website that wows your ideal client is to always prioritise user experience (UX) at every stage of your site build and maintenance. 

Here are some ways you can  improve your website and convert more leads with better UX design.

But first - What is UX design?

UX design is a design process that is laser-focused on creating systems that offer an amazing experience to its users. 

There are many principles underpinning UX design from user interface design to information architecture and accessibility. But the thing that connects all of these is simple: an unfaltering commitment to create interactions that are meaningful, relevant, and accessible for its intended audience.

Every interaction someone takes with your website or product should have been designed with user experience in mind. Decisions led by UX design are driven by user research, data analysis and testing.

It’s a well-researched process that’s far more nuanced than just picking a website theme because it looks nice

You have to understand what your users are trying to achieve, and give them all the hints they need to get there.

And by prioritising UX design, your brand can quickly and easily provide your target audience with everything they need. 

Having a better UX design could result in conversion rates of up to 400%, but depending on where you’re starting from you could get even better results. 

Invest in your UX design and you’ll make it easier and more enjoyable for website visitors to get from A to B when navigating your website. Better yet, those users will become dedicated clients and customers causing your conversion rates to skyrocket to success.

Creating a UX design that everyone loves

Great UX design will benefit everyone who interacts with your website — that includes your website visitors, content managers, web developers, and even your stakeholders.

In fact, that’s exactly what we did for Pigeon Loans! We took the old Pigeon Loans interface and refreshed it, placing emphasis on UX as we redesigned (and continue to improve) their website and app.

The result?

We helped Pigeon Loans provide an excellent user experience for their customers and team. They increased signups by 61% and secured an additional 25% in investments on top of their initial funding goal.

Remember, an excellent UX design doesn’t just make your customers happy. It makes your team and stakeholders happy too! 

Investing in your UX design adds value for all of your users.

How to strategically improve your website’s UX design

According to the Universal Principles of Design, there are 125 principles that designers should take into consideration if they want to produce successful designs. 

Phew, that’s a lot of principles.

Personally, I think 125 principles is roughly 114 principles too many. There is no way you can adhere to over 100 guidelines at once.

So, I’m not going to tell you that you must follow 100 specific rules if you want to create designs that your users love.

Instead, I’m going to share 11 ways you can strategically improve your website’s UX design.

1. Start with user research

Before you even think about changing your website, you need to first conduct some user research.

Don’t just base your new site designs on what you think your users want to see, design based on what they actually want.

Speak to your users to find out exactly what they like, or don’t like, about your current site design. Conduct user tests to understand how users behave on your site and to see if they take the expected actions. User tests are invaluable for testing different design variations and seeing if people interact with elements the way you intended.

User research allows you to make sure your UX design is tailor-made for your target audience by putting them front and centre. Carrying out usability tests and conducting user research is one of the easiest ways to make sure your site has good UX design.

As part of your user research, don’t forget to set some goals. When I asked our UX designer, David for his #1 piece of advice regarding UX design, here’s what he had to say:

“Define your objectives upfront before you start anything. 

What is the number one action you want a user to be able to achieve when they interact with your product? 

For Netflix that might be to find the most relevant content for that user at that moment. For a banking app, it could be to show their balance in as few steps as possible. 

The object might change over time but having it defined at the beginning will help massively in maintaining user focus and guiding your decisions.”

So, there you have it! Interweave goal-setting into your user research and you’ll be onto a winning UX strategy from the get-go.

2. Keep it simple

I’m a personal fan of the keep it simple, stupid (KISS) rule. The KISS framework is one that can be applied to any UX design project.

Complexity isn’t always a good thing. In fact, complexity can be confusing. Meanwhile, simplicity guarantees increased user satisfaction, acceptance and interaction.

A good way to test the KISS rule is to ask yourself: Would a six-year old understand this?
If the answer is no, your site probably isn’t simple enough to use.

Remember, it’s rare that people will sit down on a computer and dedicate themselves to your product. They’ve just woken up, are wrangling kids or rushing to the train. People have busy lives and you don’t have their full attention. You have the minimum amount of their attention (yes, I am referencing The Social Network).

When keeping your design simple, think about the way your site content looks across different devices. Practice responsive design and adapt your site design to suit various devices. Remove unnecessary elements for mobile devices and use shorter, snappier copy that make it easy for people to consume on-site content using their phone.

Keeping things simple will allow your brand to easily convey the most important information with its visitors in a way that encourages them to take action.

3. Use white space

White space refers to the areas in between various design elements. 

If you’re someone who feels compelled to fill every space of their website with content or bring everything “above the fold” then we need to re-evaluate your marketing. 

Do you make a purchase because you have every possible detail you need on your first glance? (that’s rhetorical, nobody does)

Effective use of white space makes it easier for people to consume your content. Increasing white space helps reduce information overload and guides your user throughout your site, allowing them to access the content that matters to them (not what you think matters).

People will be able to read your site more easily and they’ll be able to focus on the key pieces of content without getting distracted by other unnecessary elements.

4. Optimise page speed

Improving UX design requires technical improvements, not just aesthetic changes.

Slow-loading websites are one of the biggest frustrations for web users. Each additional second of loading times causes website conversion rates to drop by 4.42%. If you want to make sure your website visitors convert, you need to optimise those page speeds.

You can run a Google Lighthouse audit to test your current page speed and see recommendations for improvement.

Ways to optimise your page speed include compressing image files, minifying JavaScript and CSS files, using website caching, and using a content delivery network (CDN).

Increasing site speed will make it easier and faster for users to move around your website and find the information they’re looking for.

5. Conduct a UX audit

Testing really is a fundamental part of UX design. And a UX audit is perfect for testing your current site performance.

Conduct a UX audit to pinpoint the aspects of your website that aren’t performing as expected. This UX audit will reveal any elements that are frustrating users and, in turn, stagnating conversions.

To conduct a UX audit, you first need to establish your business goals and objectives. From here, take time to understand your audience — who they are, what they need, and how they interact with your site (user flow). With this information in mind, review your site to see how it performs.

When conducting a UX audit, review drop-off points in the user journey and test performance across a variety of metrics. Analysing data across sales metrics, abandonment rates, task time, page views and success rates will reveal key insights about the UX performance of your site.

You can use heat mapping and user recording tools to see how people interact with your site — these are great for getting a more in-depth view on user behaviour as part of your audit.

6. Make CTAs stand out

I’m guessing that you want people to take a specific action when they land on your site. You might want people to read a blog article, sign up to your newsletter, buy a product, or book a call.

But, how do you get people to take action?
That’s where call-to-action (CTA) copy and buttons come into play. Getting your CTAs right is critical for getting site visitors to take the actions you want them to. As such, CTA optimisation plays a fundamental role in UX design.

It’s likely that you may have more than one CTA on your landing pages. So, you want to consider the value of each CTA. Your primary CTA will be the most desired action that you want people to take. Secondary, and even tertiary, CTAs offer alternative actions that people could take if the first option doesn’t appeal to them.

So, when creating CTAs for your site, think about the psychology of colour and contrast. Generally speaking, it doesn’t matter whether your button is red, orange or blue. What matters most is how that button contrasts with the background colour. 

CTA buttons with a high contrast will grab the attention of your website visitors, encouraging them to click the button and take the action you want them to take. For this reason, you’ll want your primary CTA to have a stronger contrast than secondary call-to-action buttons.

Screenshot of Prismic's website homepage.

An example of this can be found on Prismic’s site where they have a CTA that encourages people to sign up versus a lesser-emphasised CTA for people to book a demo. The contrast between these two options clearly shows the action that Prismic want you to take, without limiting your choices to just one pathway.

You also want to think about the text used in CTA buttons. Your CTA text should use action verbs that encourage people to take the desired action.

If you want people to subscribe to your newsletter, tell them to “sign up”. Your CTA text should inspire action, be easy to skim, while still giving enough information that people understand the context.

Screenshot of ConvertKit's website homepage.

ConvertKit uses CTA copy to emphasise that it’s free to create an account. The use of the word “free” is much more likely to boost conversation rates compared to if they stuck to just using “get started”.

7. Prioritise accessibility

Designing with accessibility in mind should be at the forefront of every UX design strategy. Accessibility design makes sure that your website can be used by everybody, however they might encounter it. 

UX design that is accessible will consider the usability needs of all users including people with disabilities, and users from different cultures and countries.

You can improve accessibility by removing or optimising any elements that act as an obstacle to easy navigation. 

How do you improve the accessibility of your product?  Getting accessible design right is hard (there’s an entire field of specialists who do just that) but it’s important for everyone to be aware of the basics. 

Ensure your font is easy to read, your colours contrast well and your site is zoomable for improved legibility. Your site should be navigable with just a keyboard, and you should provide alt text for images and semantic markup to help screen readers navigate the site. Providing users with other options like light and dark modes, or reducing motion can help users who need alternate viewing modes. 

8. Focus on storytelling

Every element on your website plays a character in a larger story. Use storytelling in your UX design as a way to make sure every aspect of your site prioritises your users’ needs.

The story behind your website should go hand-in-hand with your user flow. With visual storytelling you can build user experience from the ground up. It should evoke emotions and action from your target audience as it guides them on a journey towards conversion.

Consider how people use your website and what their objective is when visiting your site. Then use these insights to create a website design that meets their exact needs and complements the typical user flow.

Consider eye tracking behaviours and use visual cues to encourage action. Use your website design as a way to tell your brand story to your visitors.

9. Practice consistency

Consistency is a key principle in UX design. A consistent design is a reliable design — it’s easy to use and dependable.

Websites that prioritise consistency will also help minimise confusion and frustration. People will be able to easily navigate your website thanks to its uniform design. Drastic layout or design changes within your site can cause usability issues for site visitors. As such, inconsistencies will reduce the effectiveness and quality of your site performance.

As well as keeping your UX design consistent, keep your branding and tone of voice consistent too. 

10. Don’t annoy people

I’ve lost count of the number of websites I’ve visited and then left seconds later out of pure frustration and annoyance.

A bad user experience can at best mildly frustrate your user and at worst have them swearing never to return.

David Dooley, UX Designer at Skyward

Telling people not to annoy their website visitors sounds simple. Yet, it’s something that soooo many website designers and content managers get wrong.

Pop-ups that pop-up too soon or don’t have a close button.

Adverts that take over your entire screen.

Web pages that are isolated from the rest of the website with no route back.

Videos that autoplay with sound.

There are many ways that your site could be unknowingly annoying your visitors.

Build anti-annoyance guidelines (yes, I made that word up but it totally works) into your UX design process to make sure your website never annoys a visitor ever again.

Steer clear of bombarding people with information. Paradox of choice and information overload are real problems. So, keep things simple and stick to only sharing the most valuable pieces of information on your site. 

You want your site design to be welcoming to people, not the reason they run in the opposite direction.

11. Remember the key elements of UX design

Whatever you do, make sure you always follow the core principles of UX design.

When designing a site with UX in mind, you need to:

  • Meet users’ needs
  • Understand the information architecture (IA)
  • Be consistent
  • Give users control
  • Prioritise usability and accessibility

Remember those five fundamental elements of UX design and you’ll be on your way to building a site that everyone loves.

Start improving your website UX design today

Investing in strong UX design works wonders for your bottom line. If your website visitors are dropping like flies, you need to improve your website UX design.

Here at Skyward, everything we do is centred around UX design. We believe that UX is the beating heart of any business. We’ll work with you to develop a functional UX design that aligns with your users’ needs and your business objectives.

Get in touch today to see how we can turn your website visitors into converting customers.