designers battle data

Round one: The battle of Designer vs. Data

Gone are the days when the primary consideration on a website’s design is to make it attractive. Popular years ago, such designs were based largely on the intuition and skills of the web designer. However, having spent many years building software and web projects, I have learned not to let the designer use ‘just’ their instincts. A successful website design is not the one based solely on aesthetic appeal or the intuition of web designer. Instead, a successful website is the one that is based on data about user behavior (obtained from testing or user analytics) AND designer intuition. You should incorporate both attributes, as one fails miserably without the other. In fact, finding this perfect balance of user data blended with the intangibles talented designers bring has become the holy grail of web design.

We live in an incredible era where we have tools to measure impact of almost every element of a website’s design. Your team can continuously engage in experimentation with different aspects of a site’s design and interface, in order to measure its impact on a user’s experience. The most important components we measure – and some tools to help you test each factor – are:

1.     Usability – Usability Hub at https://usabilityhub.com or Zurb at http://zurb.com/apps

2.     Site load speed – GTmetrix.com, or Pingdom at http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt

3.     Interactivity – CrazyEgg at http://www.crazyegg.com

4.     Navigability – Optimal Workshop at http://OptimalWorkshop.com

Because our web designs are not based solely on our whims but rather on findings of actual user data and some of our whims, our design increases the efficiency of the website – as a business tool for ecommerce, lead generation and communication. Every website has a goal, and every page has a mini-goal that supports that main goal. It is the development team’s job to keep this at the forefront of their minds throughout the data research and design process. Once the website is built, this translates into direct customer contact and provides a positive touch point for the company brand.

Create the one best design

If there is another thing which my years of development and testing have taught me, it’s that there is no single best design or layout. In fact, there are countless formats for incredible website design, each unique in its own way. Great design is never finished; you should always be testing and making upgrades or small tweaks to improve the desired results. Using tools like Optimizely, Crazy Egg, Google Analytics or Usability Hub helps test user interactions based on placement, colors, scrolling and more. Many companies put so much effort into creating the new website that they are tired of working with it by the time it debuts. As a result, no one is charged with making continuous improvements. These improvements, based on user analytics, are the small changes that can have dramatic impact on your conversion rates – and of course, your revenue. Small tweaks have produced significant changes in bottom line – as much as 50%, or even 100- 200% increases. Put someone in charge of testing and tracking conversion rates, and you’ll likely pay the person’s salary in additional conversions.

Advantages of having a data-driven website design

ü  You will facilitate good experiences for your visitors and therefore give them a positive brand experience.

ü  A well-structured web design facilitates the orderly growth of your site as you incorporate new content.

ü  Design is perhaps the single most important factor to achieve good search engine rankings. If the design is well laid out with good content, it will improve your SEO positioning.

As you might have guessed, I strongly believe that using data to guide the web design process is a critical step for any designer or team. That said, you still need to have a great designer or team to work with – so finding an inspired designer must remain a top priority. Without a skilled design team to lead UX/UI and web interfaces, you’ll find yourself deviating from a website that speaks to customer needs, trends, and aesthetics. And unfortunately, when design develops off-course in this way, companies often don’t realize they have arrived at the wrong destination until it is too late.

Have an Amazing Day,

Michael

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