Web designers, here are some tips to deliver a standout user-centric website

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Every brand wants their website to stand out in what is a very competitive online world.

Yet too many web designers try and second guess what their target audience wants and dictate what they believe the design of the website should look like - usually something pleasing to their eye. Unfortunately, this might not resonate with their users.

Invest in research

Putting in preparatory effort to understand your audience is key. There are many ways to do this, from undertaking market research to online focus groups. With the cost of entry into research lower than ever, it’s possible to gain valuable insights to help give your brand an edge over the competition.

If budget is an issue you could look to collaborate with your peers and leverage the combined expertise of the team at various stages of the design process, as this will likely deliver a balanced result.

Be open minded

Preconceptions must always be left behind in the planning stage of the design process. Any that creep back in could render any design less impactful. To avoid second guessing, take a step back and look at the project with a fresh pair of eyes.

Follow trends sparingly

Trends come and go fairly quickly in the digital design arena, so it’s best to use ‘in trend’ design flourishes sparingly because they could soon fall out of favour.

Brands need to use bright colours more liberally to stand out: Many larger organisations are recognising this and are using the clashing tones that used to be exclusively employed by edgy start-ups.

That’s not to say that brands should always choose the brightest colours in the palette. The choice of colours and fonts must be right for the values of the brand and resonate with the audience its targeting.

Text slang and emojis

The tone of voice is an important consideration in any marketing material. It has to be in a language that your target audience will best respond to.

Today, as language and communications quickly evolve in an increasingly mobile and social media world, why not start potentially using ‘text slang’ and emojis? While using such language and symbols won’t be appropriate for all brands, and should probably only be used when engaging with a younger audience, they should be considered as a way to create standout and engagement.

Design for devices your audience use

Micro-animations and feedback loops can help websites be more engaging and satisfy a user’s desire for interactivity. They are great on a smaller screen, such as a tablet or mobile, in helping to clearly signpost the journey to checkout.

But should they always be used? As an example, if you are designing a website for a corporate bank, which may be accessed by a majority of users via their PCs, do micro-animations work?

First and foremost, designers must bear in mind what devices their target audience will most likely use to access the website, and ensure the creative focus and budget is used to create a standout journey on that tech. It might not always be mobile first.

Ongoing website testing

One of the most important things every web designer must do is to constantly test the website they design. Even when the site is under construction start to test it with the target audience to see if it’s something they are effectively engaging with, and make any appropriate adjustments along the way.

Today, it’s easy and cost effective to view how consumers interact with a website, with session recording tools such as Hotjar. They reveal, for example, where the audience might be dropping off the site, so it’s possible to make learnings and design changes to improve its stickiness and conversion rates.

Once the website has officially launched the ongoing testing must not cease. Undertake ongoing conversion rate optimisation (CRO) to make learnings and, where appropriate, improve the design of the site to ensure it’s always maximising its potential. This includes regular testing of customer journeys online, to find what colour, size of type, and other content works best to help to drive conversion.

Undertaking research to increase understanding of your target audience, their interests and behaviours, from the earliest part of the design process through to learning about how the audience is engaging with the website on an ongoing basis, once it’s gone live, is a must - particularly as the cost of making learnings about your audience to deliver a standout website, and tools to test it, are as low as they ever have been.

This is the only way to maximise website performance and ensure it stands out against the competition in delivering engagement and conversion.

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