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Web design that’s user-centred

14 December, 2010

A website or any channel used to convey information needs to give importance to its target audience. Web design must therefore be centred on its target users for it to be effective. After all, isn’t a website constructed for users to visit and interact with it?

So what are the qualities of a user-centred design? According to an article by Raïssa Katz-Haas, a user-centred design must be useful and usable. Usefulness refers to how relevant the information and other content are to the user’s needs. Meanwhile, usability refers to how easy and simple users can use the concepts, processes and ideas presented.

A user-centred design helps in increasing user satisfaction and productivity, while lowering the costs associated with web design and development.

For a design to be user-centred, Raïssa Katz-Haas suggested several guidelines. First, the elements of the website, particularly those that aid navigation, should be visible. The site’s design should help the user recognise not remember elements, items and functions. The user must quickly receive feedback for every action done. Information needed must be quickly and easily accessible. The web design must provide proper orientation and navigation to avoid the user from feeling or being lost. The design must help the user to recover immediately from incorrect actions. The site should offer a pleasant experience. The content must be easy to read and foster clear. The visual design must conform to the preferences and needs of the user.

Knowing these many guidelines for making a user-centred web design, it might seem rather difficult for you to adopt. However, here are a couple of tips to help you design a website that’s user-centred.

First, involve users in the beginning of the web design project. To do this, you need to discover users’ mental models and their expectations, include them in the design and development processes, observe them in the workplace and analyse their workmanship, and elicit feedback from them.

Second, know your users. Ask them a couple of questions to learn about their web experiences and expectations, as well as their environments. And from there, analyse users’ tasks and goals by observing and interacting with them.

Next, explore different designs and approaches before you decide which web design to embrace. You need to test the design for usability and usefulness, the two elements that determine how user-centred a design is.

Finally, never stop discovering things. The modern world is constantly evolving and you must be able to catch up with recent technologies in web design, as well as with the changing preferences and needs of your target users.

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