The purpose of Design is to add value to the user experience (UX) by contributing to the aesthetics of the website, highlighting important calls to action, establishing the style guide, creating the mood, focusing on accessibility standards and best practices, ensuring that the web pages will be cross-browser compatible and pleasing to the eyes of the stakeholders, web visitors, and decision makers. While form follows function, if a website is not intuitive and easy-to-use then it risks failure.
A lot of responsibility falls on the shoulders of the interactive designer and art director because of the mountain of code that may lie underneath the hood, the user interface (UI) is what web visitors see and experience. The UI/UX is the tip of the iceberg but it is a crucial part of the process and an essential component of a website.
Outside-in Approach to Web Design by Practicing Empathy
Websites are intended to be used and visited by particular target audience segments. Government websites, for example, are often intended to be visited by citizens, other government agencies, and perhaps employees, prospective employees, and contractors of that particular agency. Member association websites are intended to be visited by members, partners, prospective members, prospective partners, and prospective employees. Every website should have specific target audience segments defined and analyzed. To ensure these website are usable, easy-to-use, and intuitive … you have to practice empathy.
Consequently, as we take on a new web design project, one of the first things we want to know or define is the primary web visitor segment. Then, we put ourselves into their place to discover what would drive them to the website. What do they want to know, see or do? What are they trying to learn or get out of their web visit? Who are these people? Are they young, old, educated, literate, disabled, web savvy, social savvy, color blind? We need to know and understand these qualities and attributes. And, we need to repeat the process for each target audience.
Only then can we offer a custom web design that will hit the mark and be receptive to the majority of your web visitors.