User Experience or User Experience Design in relation to Web development can can be described as all aspects of human interaction with an IT system, be it simple website, forum, blog, online shop or another kind of online service.
Usually, on one side we have a person (website visitor or potential customer), and on the other side some product or service we would like to sell to this person. Between the two entities stands some interface. If design of this interface takes into account human interaction with this interface, we can say about its design, that it has User Experience Design (UED).
One of essential aspects of User Experience Design is usability, which describes how much some features of the design can help you to achieve specific objectives. Let’s say: how much navigation design and functionality is useful in finding some specific page, or how general page layout helps you (direct your attention) to find the most important parts of the page. When you land on some page, and there is uniform mess everywhere and you don’t know where to start, it means that there is something wrong with the page layout. There are layouts which look nice, but don’t help you when you are looking for something specific on website. I could describe usability also as situation where a website’s design provides set of tools, which should help you to do this or that, and how usable are the tools tells us something about usability of the design as such.
Accessibility, another important aspect of User Experience Design describes – roughly speaking – how easy it is for you to understand how to use features / tools provided by a website’s design.
Some web designers are unable to understand, that not always nice and beautiful (according to them) design features will be welcomed by website users. Website design can be more or less beautiful but how useful and easy it is from users point of view – it is totally different story.
Common sense approach for businesslike websites is to use design, which provides top level user experience. With very good user experience users will spend more time on the website, visiting more pages and – most probably – buying more products or services.
How to find which design is more user friendly? There are some basic and rough assumptions which tell how good user experience design should look like. However, websites can sell different products and services aimed at different audiences, so there is no one universal most advanced design, which would produce the best user experience. The only reliable way to modify website design in the right direction is testing. One of the most popular methods is split A/B test. For most website owners or designers it is big pain when testing proves that some parts of their sophisticated design is useless from users point of view. But, this designer’s ego crash is small price compared to better business performance of your website. Isn’t it?