Designing for the User: Why Design Isn’t About You

By: Lauren McGregor Downs

Designing for the User: Why Design Isn’t About You

By: Lauren McGregor Downs

4 months ago   |   Web Design & Development

Imagine you’re on vacation and you step into a grocery store that you've never been in before. Do you think you could navigate the store, find the items that you need, and make it to the check-out to complete your purchase?

The answer is probably yes.

Why? Because most grocery stores tend to follow a basic, foundational structure and layout that does not vary widely between chains or locations.

Now, take that same idea and think about the internet, and more specifically, your website.

Delivering on Expectations

When you go to a new website, there are certain foundational elements that all users expect to be true:

  • A logo at the top-left of the screen that takes them back to the homepage
  • Top-level navigation to help get them to primary sections of the site
  • A search box on the homepage or in the top-level navigation
  • Information about who this website is made by (company, brand, publisher, etc.) and contact information in the footer
  • Breadcrumbs (secondary navigation listed horizontally at the top of all subpages that shows where they are in the site)

In order to succeed online, no matter your business, you have to take your users’ expectations into account as a primary driver of the decisions you make in regards to the design and structure of your website. Because the key to helping your users find what they need and take the necessary actions that will achieve your business objectives – making a sale – is providing a good user experience.

User-Centered Design

At Oodle we approach website design with users in mind. We seek to put together pages to meet objectives user objectives by building from these foundation pillars:

  1. User personas
  2. Information architecture
  3. Page structure – from content flow to conversions
1. User Personas

To be able to design for the user, you first have to understand the user. At Oodle we create both user personas and buyer journeys to help us make sure we are meeting the needs of customers. 

A persona is a fictitious person created to represent a group or segment of customers that use or engage similarly with a product – putting a face to abstract customer data. A persona helps you think about a customer as a person, not simply a sale. To support our personas we map out buyer journeys – the process buyers go through to become aware of, consider and evaluate, decide to purchase, and potentially evangelize a new product or service.

Both of the documents serve to guide all of the future decisions made regarding the content, structure, and organization of the website.

2. Information Architecture

At the foundation of a website’s user experience is its information architecture – the goal of which is to create a structure that optimizes user experience and meets business objectives.

Put yourself in your visitors’ shoes when you design the information architecture of your website:

  • Let them know that they’re at the right place.
  • Help them make sense of the information on your website so they can find what they’re looking for.
  • Show them options while presenting only the necessary information in a way that aids their decision-making process.
  • Let them know what actions they need to take.
3. Page Structure (Content Flow and Conversions)

The information on your site needs to be presented in a way that provides users with the value they're looking for. Regardless of business or industry, users expect engaging, useful content tailored to their needs. Prospects and customers do not want company and product hyperbole, they want help, insight, and applicable information that they can both easily find AND understand.

It’s important to structure the content on your pages to help guide the user to where they want to go. Additionally, you’ll want to create key areas for a prospect to be able to convert (submit a form, purchase a product, etc.) once they’ve found and digested the information they were looking for.

A great user experience is a means to an end. You don’t create a great user experience simply to make any one person happy – you want it to lead to something, from subscribing to emails to purchasing your goods and services. By approaching your online presence with users as the driving force behind decisions that are made, you will be setting yourself up for success – no matter what your business goals are.

Ultimately for Oodle, the purpose of UX design is to create easy, efficient, relevant, and all-round pleasant experiences for the user as they interact with a company/brand in the digital space – be it a website, social, or advertising.

Need help bringing a user-centered approach to your brand? Let us guide you.


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