Web Design Updates and the User Experience

Updating your website just for the sake of it?

There is constant pressure to update, refresh and modernize the look and feel of your website - new ways of integrating apps, new design styles, new (or old) fonts become trendy - it's a bit overwhelming to the regular business owner who just needs a website to work for them, not to win design awards or set new standards. Even the big players like google and flickr are not immune, and have made recent changes to their style that have upset many of their core users while trying to stay current. Of course, just about every facebook user has at some point complained about changes to the way information is organized, privacy maintained (or not) and being 'forced' to switch to a new layout.

So, when it comes to staying on top of every new and exciting trend, don't. Stick to what works, and update/refresh things that could use it - but always keep your audience in mind. If your website is easy to use, filled with interesting content and updated frequently then you're doing it right. people don't visit websites because the font style, or colour-scheme is cool - they visit to get something (information/products/services/etc.) so make sure that they can do what they came to do, first - and worry about how creative it looks, second.

Web Design Matters, but User Experience Matters More

Certainly websites should look beautiful, they should reflect the brand well and make visitors feel like staying... but jumping onto every new bell and whistle is not the way to go about this. Sometimes it's better to let the trends come and go and see what remains, which styles and layouts seem to be the most helpful to achieve your real goal - a great site that attracts and retains a visitors attention.

Not all updates are visible

Sometimes the best 'facelift' a site can get is under the hood, so to speak. Streamlining the way a customer can purchase from you, or sign up for information or even file a complaint is key. As websites age, many of the new technologies and methods used to build and maintain them also improve, and it is wise to take full advantage of anything that can save your customers (especially potential customers) time and energy or reduce frustration.

Keep in mind most people already have more exposure to advertising, emails, sales pitches and spam than they would like - so giving website visitors a stress-free, relaxing easy experience is like a breath of fresh air. Making them hunt for your contact details, or jump through hoops to ask a question can set an undesirable tone to any customer interaction - just ask a sales person what it's like trying to serve someone who is angry at your company before the conversation has even started. Your website should help people want to do business with you, not set up obstacles for you to overcome.

So, while it's impossible to make everyone happy and stay on top of every design and tech trend, keeping the user experience at the heart of all your website decisions will help you and anyone who drops by for a visit.

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