User experience design: Building a website people will want to use

If you bring in a consultant to analyze the effectiveness of your corporate website, they will soon start talking about UXD.

They are referring to “user experience design,” a term coined by Donald Norman in the early 1990s. Essentially, it means how well do your users, as in your clients or employees, interact with your website design? Norman explained at the time that he wanted a way to describe all aspects of a person’s experience with a computer system, including the design graphics, interface, physical interaction and the manual.

Today, use of the term has broadened to refer to how humans interact with their computers in general, to address all aspects of how your product or service are profiled on the Internet.

To gauge the UXD of your website, it starts with the look at feel of your design. Are the colors attractive, do the images captivate and is the primary message you are sending on your front page visually and psychologically appealing to people? It also includes what is referred to as information architecture, which includes how your content is arranged, and whether it is locally and easily accessible on the site. Information also includes the terms used to describe your content (metadata) and access to documents, people and organizations.

Readers look at the structure as in how easy it is to understand wording and navigate to the site area wanted efficiently.

Most importantly, UXD looks at how easy it is for your users to find the information they are seeking on your site. If they are just looking for your phone number, for example, how easy is it for them to locate it? Do they have to run through an entire toolbar and click two or three times just to do that?

Having good usability with your website is crucial in a competitive business climate.

An effective UX designer  has a keen understanding of user needs gleaned from their research and design skills. They know the kinds of designs that people like to use, in other words. To be able to do this, they must be much more than just a traditional designer. They must become something of an expert in human behavior and psychology and understand why people do what they do when they sit down at their keyboard.

They will focus on the layout and organization of your content, offering you user flow charts and site maps.

After that, you will need a UI developer who then combines this information with technical skills to create a site that looks good and is easy to use, but also functions well in a browser or other device. They translate visual designs from Photoshop into HTML code, using a keen understanding of how browser rendering engines behave.

A users’ experience with your website is a huge factor in how that user perceives what kind of company you are, so make sure you go through the effort of making your website look and feel great!

Roz Bahrami
Roz Bahrami
Roz Bahrami is a blogger for SkyPrep, an online training software for companies to train employees and measure results. Roz is a regular contributor to blogs related to corporate training, L&D, and HR technology. Visit my personal blog at

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