User goes to a website.

User is confused trying to navigate the site.

User leaves.

Brands can become so focused on plastering their message across their website, they let the needs of the user fall by the wayside. A good User Experience (UX) design puts the needs of the user first.

Every website is unique and therefore the UX best practices may vary to fit the needs of each company and its users. But a balance of whitespace, good navigation, informative animation, strategic use of bold colors and mobile optimization are always important in getting your message across while not compromising the experience of the user.

Here are four general design elements to help improve your website UX.

1. Whitespace

Whitespace (which doesn’t actually have to be white) is one of the most important design elements because it dictates everything from user flow to readability. Any type of blank space that isn’t in direct competition with the content can be classified as whitespace. Here are some ways whitespace can really help UX design:

  • Improve comprehension, making both scanning and reading content easier.
  • Clarify relationships defined by surrounding whitespace.
  • Attract attention by leading the user’s eyes towards relevant content.
  • Most importantly, create visual hierarchy by creating a general flow and balance.

2. Navigation

Don’t make this complicated! Users should be able to easily navigate throughout the site without an atlas (or Google maps). Here are a few UX steps when building site navigation:

  • Make the navigation easy to locate. People have become impatient because of the speed of access they are afforded. They won’t hang around a site very long if they can’t find what they’re looking for.
  • Try to be consistent. The navigation should be in the same place on every page. Moving it around will frustrate users.
  • Keep it simple. Too many links in the navigation can get confusing. Large navigations can be cut down by breaking it up into categories.

3. Animation

Animation can add a fun element to a website and be very useful. Below are a few ways to implement useful animation.

  • Our eyes are drawn to movement, a simple button animation can generate more clicks while providing a visual cue.
  • Animations can suggest clues and cues. A bouncing arrow can signal the user as to what they should do next. Animation can also build a connection between two tasks, for example “start download” and “download completed.”
  • Transitions between pages can make a website feel like a guided tour while providing some visual feedback to the user.

4. Color

The use of color is a great aid when visually communicating. It can create a visual hierarchy and grab the user’s attention, similar to that of animation. The right choice of colors can support better readability within a site. Here are a few ways color can be applied to positively impact UX:

  • Color can visually cue the user of various element states. For example a button can have more than one state, and a good way to visually cue the user with each state is by using color.
  • Color can be used as a visual guide – bright, bold color can be used to strengthen call to actions.
  • A website can have an overall better visual appearance with the use of color making the users’ experience that much greater.

Good UX design doesn’t have to be hard, but it is essential.