Designing websites is the most enjoyable part of my trade. I love the challenge that comes with the responsibility of rejuvenating a brand’s digital presence, or increasing sales through a considered user journey coupled with a sleek design.
When I was recent asked if I do any UX work, it raised a more significant question to me…
Can you create an effective website without UX design?
For me the answer is quite clearly, no. Although I’ve never pitched myself as a UX designer, UX is a crucial element to a successful website, especially one where the end game is for consumers to make purchases.
So where does UX come in to play?
At the early stages of any web project it’s important to start by doing some research on the target market and the competition to better understand the user journey and how traffic is converted in to sales. That itself is UX – considering the how the end user will navigate and shop the site instead of just focusing on the aesthetics. Creating something that looks great is one thing, creating something that looks great, communicates clearly and drives sales is another.
How can I create a better user experience through design?
My process of implementing UX in my design process is simple but effective – wireframing. I always follow up my research with a series of wireframes, regardless of whether or not the client wants to see this as part of the process as the benefits to the design are considerable.
Creating an effective wireframe
People create wireframes in different ways but I like to break away from the screen and get stuck in with pen and paper. Personally I find the best place to start is by making a list of the content required for the specific page you’re creating a wireframe for. This won’t always be supplied but even if it is, it’s always worth analysing to see if there’s anything missing the can enhance the user experience.
Once you have your list you can then sort through the hierarchy, making informed decisions on which content is most important and what order it should be seen in. When you do this you have to assume that the user won’t scroll to the bottom of the page, so if you’re designing an ecommerce site make sure you place your product links high up the page.
When you’re happy with the content you’ve identified and organised you can then get to the design. My reason for choosing pencil and paper for this is that I find it more efficient to create loose sketches that I can easily erase and reconstruct. If you think this might suit the way you work you can download a template I’ve created below – I always print this out and draw over the dot grid.
So to answer the question raised in this article – no, you've can't create and effective website without UX design. The two go hand in hand and although they aren't the same, every web designer should embrace and practice UX to better their results and career.