User experience design is the process of optimising the accessibility, usability and overall satisfaction provided by an interaction between a user and product, service or piece of communication. Heidi Laidler is a User Experience Designer with Media Access Australia, and shares her views on what makes for a good user experience in the web and digital space, in a fascinating podcast article.
Listen to the complete interview as Media Access Australia’s Heidi Laidler talks with Philip Jenkinson, about what makes for good user experience design.
Delivering an excellent user experience online and via digital communications has become an increasingly critical factor in the success or failure of an organisation’s ability to positively engage with those who they interact with. That’s why user experience is so important, and why so many Government departments, businesses and charities arrange for user experience testing before launching or relaunching their websites, landing pages or major new initiatives.
Heidi Laidler spends her days focussing on designing, testing and auditing the digital user experience for organisations of all shapes and sizes, and believes there are a number of critical factors that contribute towards a good user experience online.
“Every aspect of the website needs to be considered,” she says. “Of course the visual aesthetic is important, and just like a beautifully-designed store makes for a better shopping experience, so does a beautiful website.”
“One thing I have noticed on a lot of websites is that there’s too much content crammed onto one page,” says Heidi. “One of the key elements of cognition is that people comprehend content better when it’s separated by blank space. Doing this also just makes for a nicer, more minimalist look.”
And it seems that another key aspect of user experience is not trying to reinvent the wheel.
“Although you want to have a unique and different website, there are certain conventions in websites which users are accustomed to,” she explains. “Like certain icons and buttons and elements of the website being positioned in certain areas of the screen. Users expect to be able to navigate a website in a way that they’re used to, so while breaking way from the formula may seem like a good way to create a unique website, it’s likely to confuse users.”
“When we’re providing a digital experience, we think about the layout of the webpage, the colours that we use and the way the people are going to interact with it as well,” says Heidi. “So it’s very similar to a bricks and mortar shopping experience, it’s just that we’re moving to the digital instead of the face-to-face.”
So what does Heidi believe is the most important contributing factor for user experience?
“I think that the user experience should be considered from the beginning,” she says. “To find your primary users and keep them in mind throughout the whole design process, and keep coming back to those users that you’ve established in the beginning.”
“The crux of it is, if users don’t have a positive experience on a website it reflects badly on a brand or organisation. Or if the user experience is so bad, then the user may not even be able to interact effectively with the website and it may not be able to serve its purpose at all.”
If your organisation could benefit from excellent user experience design in the web and digital space, you can contact Media Access Australia’s Digital Accessibility Services team