Considerations to Evaluate the Efficacy of Your Website Design
A newly designed website has to undergo thorough usability testing before it actually goes live. Designers use a slew of tools and methodologies to ensure they’ve built a website that meets the highest standards of usability. While testing is a critical ingredient of the web design process, you’ll need to test its efficacy with a bit of street creed as well.
The idea is to examine the website in isolation without any preconceived notions in your head about the usability of the site, its UX and UI. What you essentially need to do is look at the website from the user’s point of view. While doing so, you are no longer the client who commissioned the design and development of the website anymore. You are just a part of the website’s intended audience who has accessed the site and is going through it.
This will help you see your website the way the target user sees it. But let there be no doubt that this isn’t frivolous exercise, you’re still testing your site. So, you’ll need to keep a few considerations in mind to evaluate the design of your website. Here are 7 of them that you need to keep in mind:
1. Clarity of Website’s Purpose
When you open the site, do you immediately get the sense of what the website is trying to say to you or do you need to look for information that helps you identify its purpose. If it’s the former, the website’s on the right track; but if it’s the latter, you need to do something about it. You’ve got an error on your hands and it needs to be corrected.
A website’s purpose must be immediately visible to the visitor. Irrespective of the fact whether it’s selling something or purely advertising a product/service, the message must be made abundantly clear.
Two things to be noted here – Firstly, your logo should fit seamlessly with the surrounding elements of the design and secondly, the logo must be prominently placed on all pages of your site. Is that happening? Considering the fact you must have gone through plenty of website wireframes and mockups, chances are you must have already sorted out any logo issues the design had. But it still pays to make sure. There is a difference between seeing your business’s logo on a website whose design is over and done with and when it’s still a work in progress.
3. Contact Information Clearly Visible
It’s the simple things going wrong that usually take a website down. Take for example the case of ‘contact information’. While your website will have a ‘Contact Us’ page it still makes sense to ensure your contact information ( your business’s phone number/email ) is clearly visible on all its pages. This not only improves website credibility but also enhances its UX. Visitors shouldn’t have to make their way especially to the ‘Contact Us’ page to get in touch with your business. This information must be readily available everywhere on your site. If you find yourself searching for a way to contact your business while you’re on a particular page, you’ve found an error that needs correction.
4. Design with Emotional Appeal
What is that one emotion that you wanted your site to convey? Was it envy? Was it Passion? Was it Anger? Was it Desire or something else? Now look very carefully at the design and check whether the visual and textual elements are coming together to bring that emotion out of your design. A website is no longer just a mix of visual and functional experience; it should also be an emotional experience for the visitor. Your website should form an emotional bond with its users. The undercurrent of emotion running through the website will be picked up by them and this is important for conversion.
A great read on the subject is How to Build Irresistible Websites by Designing for Emotions. It tells you how you can bake emotions into your website’s design.
5. Image Quality
This is again something you must have covered when the images were actually chosen for the website, but there is no harm in looking at them again from user’s perspective. Ask these questions vis-à-vis your images:
- Are they relevant?
- Are they unique?
- Do they have emotive appeal?
- Do they enhance the website’s message?
- Do they have stickiness?
- Do they look good?
- Are they pixel perfect?
- Do they help focus attention of visitors on the brand’s message?
You must make absolutely sure your images are perfect. Anything less and you’ll find yourself battling a low website conversion ratio soon enough.
Your website must have zero distractions. The purpose of all the design elements must be to focus user attention on the most important information on the page. For e.g. if you’ve used an interesting animation on a particular page, the animation should be used to enhance the website’s messaging. If you think certain design elements are playing truant and interfering with your website’s takeaway, they probably have no business of being on the website.
Going majorly creative with your website’s navigation is never a good idea. If you think about it, even those websites that you can slot in the ‘extremely creative’ category have immensely functional navigation that is really very easy to use. So does your site have such navigation? Or have your designers in a bid to showcase their creativity and technical expertise, come up with a navigation that looks good, but is difficult to use? If you think your site navigation doesn’t work, get it changed. Sometimes all that stands between website success and failure is the quality of your navigation. This is what makes it effective or ineffective.
These are just 7 of the many considerations you’ll need to keep in mind to find out whether your site is effective or not. What’s more, this evaluation is a continuous process. There is a chance you will find there is something wrong with your website at a later date, after the site has been live for quite a while. If that’s the case, you’ll need to make the necessary improvements quickly. It’s important to remember you should be your website’s biggest critic. This will help ensure the effectiveness of your site.