UX and UI Best Practices for Websites

Posted 24.06.2024

By Pete Bingham

When it comes to web design, the user is king, and there are two core concepts that are central to this ethos: UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface).

While they often get bundled together in conversation, they’re actually two distinct aspects in web design – both pivotal to the success of your website. And we all know a well- or poorly-designed website can make or break your business.

Understanding and implementing effective UX and UI principles is key to creating a site that not only looks great but also functions with your users’ interests at heart.

In this article, we’ll look at the importance of both UX and UI, explore what constitutes good practice, and provide actionable insights on implementing them effectively on your own site.

Before we get into that, let’s define UX and UI.

UX designers look at web design mockups and wireframes on a laptop

 

What Is UX?

UX (user experience) is all about how visitors feel as they interact with your website. Good UX design is about improving that experience to deliver a fast, smooth and enjoyable journey for your visitors, ensuring they find what they need and fully engage with your site.

Customer trends continually evolve, meaning good UX design should be an ongoing, iterative process that involves in-depth audience research, usability testing, accessibility auditing and more to continually improve your website visitors’ satisfaction.

 

What Is UI Design?

UI (user interface) design focuses on the tangible elements of your website, such as layout, typography, and colour schemes, all of which shape your users’ visual and interactive experience.

So whilst UI and UX are distinct design disciplines, a great user experience relies on a well-designed and intuitive user interface. Similarly, good user experience research can greatly inform your user interface.

 

Why Is UX So Important?

Offering your visitors a positive user experience encourages them to engage with your website; clicking, converting and, hopefully, returning. After all, if you enjoy something, you’re more likely to engage with it for longer periods, want to do it again and recommend it to others. So from a business perspective, investing in UX design can help drive repeated visits and conversions and build brand loyalty and engagement.

There are also many SEO benefits to developing your site’s user experience as well. For example, when visitors spend more time on your web pages and engage with your content, it sends positive signals to search engines, potentially boosting your rankings.

 

The Principles of UX & UI

Good UX entirely depends on what your customers need from your website, and the goal is to solve those needs with the least friction and effort possible. In order to achieve this, there are a few principles that can definitely help.

 

The user comes first

Balancing SEO requirements, business goals, and user needs can be challenging, but the best websites prioritise the user above all else. While SEO specialists have traditionally focused on adding keyword-rich content to improve search rankings, this can often lead to a poor overall experience for users trying to access information quickly.

Instead, the focus should be on creating valuable, engaging content that naturally incorporates keywords without compromising readability. When visitors can achieve their goals smoothly, it benefits your business by boosting user engagement and speeding up conversions. Ultimately, happy users result in happy business owners.

An example of the wireframes and protypes we build in Figma

 

Design consistency

Consistency in design is crucial for both UI and UX, helping users easily find what they’re looking for and understand what to expect at every step of their journey. This familiarity speeds up the interaction process and increases the likelihood of conversions.

From a UI perspective, consistency means that visual elements like buttons and menus follow the same style across the site. This makes it easier for users to navigate and reduces confusion.

Consistent design also helps build brand recognition. When users see the same style and layout throughout the site, it reinforces the brand’s identity and makes it more memorable.

In short, design consistency isn’t just about looks; it’s about creating an intuitive and easy-to-process experience for users. By keeping things consistent, you make it easier for users to engage with your site.

 

Improving web accessibility

From a UX perspective, web accessibility plays a fundamental role in creating inclusive and user-friendly experiences. By implementing accessible design features such as clear navigation, descriptive labels, and keyboard-friendly controls, UX designers can ensure that all users can navigate and interact with the website seamlessly.

Accessibility considerations also extend to factors such as text size, sentence length, colour contrast, and multimedia alternatives, allowing users with additional visual, cognitive, mobility or auditory requirements to understand and navigate your content effectively.

 

Functionality before aesthetics

Another difference between UI and UX is that while UI focuses on the look of your product, UX focuses mostly on how your site functions – which is far more important.

The mantra “form follows function” guides UX and UI design, ensuring that every visual element should serve a functional purpose. While aesthetics are important, they should never compromise usability.

The new pub people website design on laptop and mobile

 

Mobile UX & UI best practice

Google has just finished rolling out its mobile-first indexing, which it started way back in 2016 and with over 60% of internet traffic originating from  mobile devices, if you haven’t started to take mobile web design seriously, you’re long overdue. A good mobile experience is now critical for retaining users and achieving higher rankings on search engines.

 

Best practices for delivering an optimised mobile site include:

  • Ensuring your website adjusts smoothly across various screen sizes with responsive design.
  • Optimising for fast load times by reducing image sizes, using a content delivery network (CDN) and minimising JavaScript.
  • Streamlining navigation to make it intuitive and easy to use.
  • Creating touch-friendly interfaces with adequately sized buttons and spacing.
  • Ensuring readable content with appropriate font sizes and contrast.
  • Leveraging mobile-specific features like geolocation and click-to-call buttons.
  • Adopting a minimalist design to avoid clutter and focus on essential content and functionality.

By adhering to these best practices, you can create a mobile web experience that is not only user-friendly but also optimised for search engines, ultimately driving better engagement and higher conversions.

 

How Can I Improve UX on My Website?

Whilst there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, improving the UX on your website typically begins by attempting to understand the specific UX problems your site suffers from, before brainstorming and testing potential solutions.

 

Empathise

The user always comes first, so any UX optimisation should start with understanding, and attempting to empathise with your users and their pain points.

Sometimes the issues with your site are obvious, and other times they require further research and data to understand. You can glean a lot of information from user testing and heatmap data (e.g. Hotjar, or Clarity), or directly from your customers, for example by using customer surveys and reviews. However you identify your site problems, you should be able to use the available data to empathise with your users and understand where they’re struggling and where your site needs improvement.

 

Define

Once you have a clearer understanding of the UX issues your users are facing, you should be able to define them clearly.

For example, “category pages take too long to load” or “users can’t find delivery information on a product page” – lay out the problem clearly and set clear goals for designers and developers to work towards.

You should also attempt to define the solution and the metrics that define success. Whether it’s more conversions, a page speed score, or improved reviews – your metrics will vary based on your goals. Once you’ve determined the metrics that prove a successful outcome you have a beginning and end point.

As ever, the more detail you can provide, the better your team will be able to provide solutions and assess whether any remedial work has been successful.

 

Ideate

Armed with the right brief and the collected data, you can instruct your designers and developers to brainstorm and propose viable solutions to your UX problems. Encouraging “design thinking” to analyse the issue and explore multiple approaches will help find the most effective ways to improve the user experience.

The "double diamond" approach to design thinking

 

Prototype

Once your design team has a few proposals, it’s time to build working prototypes to visualise the solution and gather feedback. Although this step can be costly, smaller businesses might consider implementing UX solutions directly onto their websites. However, it’s crucial to recognise that large-scale changes could result in a poorer user experience if rolled out site-wide without the necessary feedback and testing stages.

In fact, your prototype doesn’t even have to be a fully fleshed-out design, so long as it meets the requirements of a minimum viable product and can be tested by your team. Even a simple set of wireframes can be suitable, depending on the complexity of the problem and solution.

From a UI perspective, it’s crucial that any solution takes into consideration the design “language” of your website. This means adhering to existing elements such as visual hierarchy, UI patterns, typography, and colour schemes to ensure a cohesive and intuitive user interface. Without this, your solution will struggle to feel like an intuitive part of the wider user journey.

An example of the wireframes and protypes we build in Figma

 

Test

With your prototype solution in place, it’s time to evaluate whether or not it actually solves your problem (i.e. the one that was identified at the beginning of the exercise).

When it comes to testing, the more feedback you can gather, the better. This is why, it can sometimes help to “soft launch” a solution via split testing it, using live A/B testing. That way you can gather real user data on whether the solution truly fixes your UX issue.

If this isn’t possible, get as many of your team as possible to proof the prototype (e.g. on a staging site). If the feedback is good you can move on to implementation

 

Implement

Once your team is happy with your working solution, you can implement it fully across your site – but the truth is, testing never really ends and any solution can easily end up back in the ideation phase before long. The important thing is to ideate, prototype and test your solutions, backed up with as much real data as possible – continuously monitoring performance.

 

The Benefits of Good UX

In conclusion, prioritising UX and UI in your web design strategy is crucial for creating a website that not only attracts visitors but also retains them and encourages repeat engagement. Remember: the user comes first!

By focusing on user needs, maintaining design consistency, ensuring accessibility, and following a structured approach to problem-solving and testing, you can significantly enhance your site’s usability and effectiveness.

Ultimately, we believe a website is never truly finished, and continuous monitoring, testing, and optimisation are the keys to staying ahead online.

At Frogspark, we are committed to helping you implement these best practices, ensuring your website delivers an exceptional user experience that drives success for your business. If you’d like to speak to our friendly UX experts, get in touch and we can arrange a callback at your convenience.

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