Someone recently asked me if there is one universal truth when it comes to UX. If there was one trick or concept that makes for a great user experience. After careful consideration, I told them, “Yes, keep it simple. Elegant but simple.” And I was met with silence and a blank stare. You see, simplicity is not so simple. The companies and brands who are able to master this concept while making it look effortless tend to stick out in our minds. Household names like Apple, Google, and Zappos are just a few that come to my mind when I think about big names using a simple design and messaging to get ideas across.

It’s not hard to design something simple, we see it every day in websites created in the drag and drop website builders or on a blogging site like WordPress. What is infinitely more difficult is finding a way to keep your simple design engaging, attractive, and desirable to your customer base.
So do a quick self-check. Are you a flashy, over the top designer? (It’s okay if you are, we need those too!) Or are you more inclined to design in a more minimalist way, with a less is more mindset? So now we’ve established your personal style, let’s talk about what it takes to achieve your goals. We’re a UX testing group so naturally my first inclination is going to be to tell you to test your stuff. And I have good reasons to do so (besides the bottom line for my company).

Things to think about

  • You don’t know what you don’t know until you know
    • Okay, I’ll admit that’s a pretty complicated sentence for a blog all about simplicity but hear me out. We say this to people all the time. You don’t know what your site visitors are struggling with until you ask them. They might not even know what they’re struggling with until they aren’t able to complete a task on your site. So we always encourage our clients to figure out what is the goal of their site, what do they want customers to do? If there are LOTS of things you want a customer to do… we might encourage you to narrow down to the number one, ipso facto, most important thing. More often than not, it has something to do with completing a next step action, such as contacting the sales team. If your customer doesn’t know how to do this or doesn’t recognize this is what you want them to do, your design has ultimately failed. Don’t put up barriers
  • Don’t put up barriers
    • We have several clients who insist on putting up obstacles for their customers to overcome. Whether it’s requiring personal information or joining a mailing list, you make it hard for your customers to engage with your site. Now, using this inbound marketing technique makes sense in specific situations. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good inbound method. If you are giving them something that is truly valuable in the mind of the customer, like a whitepaper full of info, go for it. Too often, we see designers and/or sales people locking up information visitors have come to expect as a standard. Such as a demo video showcasing your product or information about pricing. Locking up something they’ve come to expect as a site standard won’t give them an incentive to give you info, rather they’ll just leave and go to your competitor. While I understand this helps you gather a more qualified prospect list, it also eliminates the prospects who aren’t quite ready but would eventually buy in, if you let them learn what they needed to do so.
  • Don’t make them work for it
    • This goes along with the “don’t put up barriers” idea. Too many times websites include call to action paths that are difficult or unexpected for a customer. In your mind, it might make total sense because you’re intimately familiar with the design structure. Your information architecture is the core base of your site and will truly be the best way to help customers figure out what you want them to do.

We recommend testing your site in stages, start with an information architecture study such as a card sort to understand how customers expect information to be organized. After that, we can use eye tracking to test every stage of the design phase from initial concepts, to usability testing on composed designs, to a quick “temperature check” before launch day. Investing in testing makes sure your first impression creates a positive brand perception for your visitor. Keep it simple and always double check you’ve got it right.

Also published on Medium.