User experience (UX) determines how effective any kind of interface is to the people interacting with it. For web developers and designers, this is one of the most important considerations of the job and something that could make or break the entire project. To better guarantee success, every web designer must build the skills to create an optimal user experience.
But what makes a good UX so essential? And what skills should you hone?
Here, we explore the importance of UX as it applies to any web application or site. Plus, these are the skills you’ll need most if you’re to design a great experience.
User experience is just that: the experience of a user as they navigate your platform and fulfill their objectives. If your platform fails to accommodate the user in a logical, simple way, you’ll suffer lost traffic and failed conversions. Instead, you need to focus on UX as a core source of value for anyone who engages with the page or app.
To put this into perspective, a University of Surrey study found that 75% of people judge a website’s credibility purely on its aesthetics. This is but one element of UX and it will determine how three-quarters of your users feel about the overall quality and authenticity of the branded platform.
Meanwhile, U.S. 508 accessibility research found that 71% of users with disabilities will immediately leave a site if it fails to be accessible. The World Health Organization estimates that over one billion people live with some form of disability, meaning that an accessible UX is a must-have if you want a broad user base.
Statistics like these reveal the fundamental necessity of good UX, which entails both pleasant aesthetics and navigable, accessible content. Web designers and developers will fail to have the success they hope for if these elements do not support a wide range of users. That said, there is a suite of skills you’ll need to cultivate a better experience.
While every web developer and designer will have somewhat different goals for a particular project, great UX is always necessary. To produce this feature, you need a broader understanding not just of visual artistry but of people.
How do people respond to visual cues? How do they move around a site? What makes them want to stay or leave? It’s the human side of things just as much as it is the back-end functionality of a platform that determines how usable it is.
That said, web developers often have to become a UX jack-of-all-trades. The following are the skills to build if you hope to produce the optimal user experience.
Graphic design is all about visuals, layout, and emotional responses. As a web developer, you’ll need at least a basic understanding of graphic design as you integrate visuals and build a layout that users will find aesthetically pleasing. Because three-quarters of users will immediately judge a platform’s credibility based on this element, taking courses in this field will elevate your ability to create a great UX.
Then, focus on accessibility. This consideration factors into all the graphics, text, and multimedia content that will be hosted on your site. Meanwhile, certain accessibility standards will impact your search engine optimization (SEO). Follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and learn what it means to build accessible web tools.
Next, the way you present information on your platform will impact both accessibility and design. Information architecture represents the foundation on which you organize content and display it to users for them to navigate. Training courses in IA can help you elevate your hierarchy of information to produce optimal outcomes for all users.
But don’t neglect the human side of things as you lay out, organize, and pretty up your website. Emotional intelligence is key when building experiences that cultivate a genuine and positive human connection, which users much prefer to corporate lingo and canned responses. Improve your emotional intelligence by honing awareness and communication skills.
Finally, your ability to evaluate and improve UX comes down to how you approach user testing. There are plenty of effective ways to conduct user testing that garner quantitative and qualitative feedback from a sample of your users. By learning how to employ these methods effectively, you can produce a UX that meets and exceeds user expectations, every time.
These are just a sampling of the many skills you’ll need to thrive as a developer or designer for the web. On this foundation, you can build a future-proof career as a professional capable of translating and cultivating real value on the internet. From here, it’s a matter of listening to your users and adjusting as needed to give them the best possible user experience.
UX is vital in our highly competitive digital economy. If you fail to pay careful attention to factors like aesthetics, accessibility, and platform organization, you’re bound to damage your own potential for traffic, conversions, and happy users. Fortunately, you can optimize UX for any project you approach with the skill set listed here.
Start by learning the basics of graphic design, then exercise emotional intelligence. Users want even a virtual experience to feel like a human one, and these skills will help produce exactly that.
Beau Peters is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he’s learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.