Have you ever heard that saying, “the customer is always right”? That same principle applies to your website design. Your website is ultimately there for your users, and everything leading up to the final product should be focused on user experience.
WordPress theme designers and developers have a twofold user base; theme customers, and their website visitors. This makes the job twice as hard. There is a need for a theme that is customizable and adaptable enough so that theme customers can create websites that their visitors won’t forget.
Let’s have a look at what makes a good UX design (a few essentials). Why as WordPress website designers your lives are much easier when you pick the right WordPress theme, and how you can prioritize elements in WordPress to make your UX great.
What makes a UX design good?
UX is all about the emotions. How do your users feel when they are on your website. In other words you need to make them feel comfortable, safe and gain their trust. There are a few different ways to do this, and some essentials to consider. Here is what I think is needed for your user to feel at ease on your website.
Try and imagine that your user is on a journey on your website. Like any good storybook, he will know the title of the book, the chapter, page number and the sentence. He will have a context, so make sure your users are always contextually aware of where they are on your website.
There is nothing that is valued higher than being personable. Your website should aim to be approachable, trustworthy and transparent. Create that feeling of a human interaction, and your users will feel safe.
Give your users the information they need, and even more importantly guide them safely to it. Don’t make your user’s think too much. Keep things nice and clear for them. Avoid jargon, distractions and clutter.
But, what does all of this mean in practice?
Great UX with WordPress
Bad UX can harm a business. Making navigation difficult and tiring out your visitors while searching for information can have a very negative effect on your business. The good news is that within WordPress it’s easier to put forward a great UX design. Once you have picked a good WordPress theme you need to just learn what to prioritize and you are more than halfway there. As WordPress website makers, you can thank the great WordPress theme designers for giving you a helping hand.
Let’s take a look at what you need to include to create a great UX.
Serve it on up on a silver platter
In practice “clear information” means exactly serving information for your visitors on a silver platter. Navigation bars and menus are there primarily to give information, therefore do not complicate it. Have a simple, easy to find and use navigation menu. They are usually positioned in the header or on the left hand side. By sticking to this, you are doing what your visitors expect, so makes it easy for them to find what they are looking for.
Here is a great example in our very own Herald theme. The navigation menu is at the top of our website, making it very easy for visitors to find what they are looking for.
Information now also includes social integration. This is social profile icons and social share icons. Visitors are used to sharing the information they find useful, so again make this easy for them. Place your social profile icons where they are expected. In the header space next to the navigation is a good option. Even better is placing them in your sidebar.
Smashing Magazine does a great job, here you can find social share icons in the sidebar.
The most important thing to remember is avoid scrolling to find them, keep them above the fold. The same goes for social share icons, they need to be ideally at the top or bottom of your posts. A floating social share icon bar can also do the trick.
The one thing you want your visitors to do is click on that CTA, be it to buy your product or sign up for a newsletter. That means clear, visible CTA’s. The fewer steps a visitor has to complete to perform the task you want them to, the better.
The example here does all of the talking. Who doesn’t have Netflix?
The best part, these can be arranged with WordPress in a matter of minutes, and your UX is going in the right direction.
First screen impressions
Heard of the above the fold rule? Now there is a lot of debate if this is valid, and how powerful is that first screen we see. Are people now ok with scrolling? Can or should you put your CTA’s below the fold?
This is how we feel about the above the fold rule. Our Vlog theme makes sure you have the most important information visible.
Rather than getting into the debate itself, or the newspaper origins of the term, let’s have a look at what are some of the facts. Jakob Nielsen, who holds a PhD in human computer interactions, has concluded that only 20% of people read below the fold. 80% of user attention is focused above it. But, he isn’t the first person to think this up. Back in the 60’s David Ogilvy, known as the father of advertising, concluded something similar, only 20% of people read past the headline.
I wanted to share with you some more interesting information. Below you will see a scroll-map of our website, more specifically our home page. Here I have divided it up so you can clearly see our visitor interactions. After the header, the percentage of people who read our page drops by a whooping 20%, going all the way to the bottom where it drops by 80%.
So, yes above the fold needs to capture your reader’s attention, and no you don’t need to fit everything in. Content should be catchy, informative and useful. However, don’t try and include everything, people need motivation to scroll and click on your CTA.
Doing above the fold right actually incorporates all of the elements we talked about, user journey – make sure they have context, personal touch – make them feel at home, and clear and easy navigation without clutter.
…again WordPress makes this easier with WordPress theme post and page layouts that give you options to include your key information.
Strip it down
It’s hard when you believe in something and are looking to portray it in the best light not to shout out “this is awesome” in 10 different ways. Pictures, text, video, comments, likes, recommendations why not show it all? I urge you to resist, because this approach can be very overwhelming for your visitors. Less is more. Stick with those fancy features that are most effective, fit your design and industry, and do something for you. Features for feature’s sake are useless.
This is one of my personal favorites for minimalistic design. It’s the definition of simple.
This website is arty in nature, and to show that, it features across the whole screen pieces of art, which change every 10 seconds. If you look closely you will see the menu bar, exactly where you expect it to be, in the top left corner. The only other writing on the screen is the logo and the name of the artist whose work is featured.
One powerful feature is more convincing than 10 different ones. Try and find that one that can change your UX experience.
WordPress theme design is great because it gives you the right elements to manipulate that can create an all round excellent user experience. You don’t need to be a UX researcher or designer to learn the basics and get your website on track. For the beginning learn how to prioritize your features and website information to give that homely, “you can trust us just click here” feel to your users.