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The Principles Of User-Centered Web Design

May 7, 2024 | Graphic Design, Website Design, Website Optimization

User Centered Design

Web designers are committed to building websites that give users the ultimate user experience. Excellent UX will not only make users happy but Google as well. And a happy Google might reward your website with a boost in the search rankings.

The truth is that web designers can level up their UX game by applying the principles of User-Centered web design or UCD.

The Principles Of User-Centered Design

User-Centered web design is an iterative approach that actively seeks to involve the user in every stage of the web development process. The goal of the web designer who applies UCD is to create a website that responds to the needs, demands, preferences, and behavioral attributes of the user.

Put another way, UCD creates UX design by collaborating closely with its end users.

These 6 principles will help you manage the challenges that come with combining the precision of mathematics and science with the unpredictability of human behavior when designing a User-Centered website.

1. User-Centered Design Is Empathetic Design

Design research is the process of gathering and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data to gain a comprehensive understanding of how the target market intends to use the website.

Qualitative research refers to observational data or metrics that involve a measure of objective analysis such as surveys, responses to interviews, and analyzing the results of UI interface tests like click-path tracking and heat mapping.

Quantitative research involves reviewing and evaluating onsite metrics or analytics such as page views, number of visitors, the completion rate of tasks, and bounce rate to name a few.

Put simply, design research helps you identify who you are designing the website for – the potential site users.

However, UCD isn’t just about creating a website that fulfills the needs of its users. Design must also consider how the website’s various features and elements make the users feel.

  • Is the home page so colorful and packed with images that the user might be confused about where the menu button is located?
  • Will the user find the contact forms too cumbersome to fill out?
  • Are there too many steps on the checkout page that the shopper might feel inconvenienced?
  • Is my web copy written in a manner that’s easy to understand?
  • Are my product descriptions clear and comprehensive enough for the shopper?

Do a bit of role-playing and put yourself behind the lens of the user. How will you feel when you land on this type of website? Yes, it provides what you need but is it easy and convenient for you? Do you feel welcome on the site – or does it intimidate you?

2. Design with Holistic Solutions in Mind

Another example of quantitative research is correlational research design which compares and contrasts the relationship between 2 independent variables.

Correlational research design helps you anticipate possible changes in trends and anticipate shifts in consumer behavior by running tests on the variables.

The results of correlational research design don’t mean your website will offer different solutions to different types of user personas. Your website must have a system that delivers a holistic solution – one that benefits every user.

Let’s say you have an e-commerce website that sells home cleaning supplies. The home page might feature the different categories of each household product with each category represented by an image of the most popular item:

  • Detergents
  • Pesticides
  • Acids
  • Soaps
  • Toilet Cleaners
  • Degreasers
  • Cleaning Tools and Supplies

Once a user clicks on the image, he will be taken to a product description page. If he’s interested in buying the product, there’s a button that allows him to add it to his shopping cart.

When he’s ready to checkout, he can click on the shopping cart icon to review his purchases, the total amount he has to pay, and a button to complete the transaction.

If the shopper isn’t a member of your website yet, he’ll have to fill out a few information fields. If he is a member, he can proceed to the checkout counter. You can also include other features that are useful for the user such as:

  • 24/7 chatbot
  • Cart abandonment email
  • Email confirmation of the order
  • Link for a delivery tracker
  • Pre-order/Product reservation option

It doesn’t matter that one user might have a different interest than another. Everyone will enjoy a seamless, convenient, and stress-free online shopping experience.

3. Focus On Communicating Clearly with Site Users

One of the most important pieces of advice we give to our clients is to create content for the user and not for the business. People go to your website to find solutions. If they can’t understand the information on your web pages, how will they know they’re on the right website?

  • Converse in the Language of the User – There’s no need to use industry-specific jargon or business-speak to try and impress site users. They’ll be more impressed if your web copy is easy to understand.

If you’re selling a fast-acting protein powder, instead of writing:

“Made with High GI components that will quickly trigger the release of the hormone insulin from the pancreas, bind with the protein molecule, and spike it into the muscle tissue for immediate glycogen stores.”

You can write user-friendly content like:

“With added simple sugars to help drive the protein into the muscle and help you recover from your workouts faster.”

  • Incorporate Information/Feedback Mechanisms – If you’re visiting a supermarket for the first time, you probably won’t know which aisle to go to and find the product you’re looking for.

Lucky for you, there are store personnel who’ll notice you’re in a new place and will ask you if you need assistance.

On a website, the chatbot is the store personnel.

Add a chatbot plugin that assists visitors and gives the information they need. Include quick links to forms that visitors can use to relay feedback or ask for more information.

  • Provide Language Options – If your website metrics show that a significant population of users come from other countries, provide language options.

You don’t have to have page translations in the language of each nationality that visited your website. Instead, offer the feature to the nationality that most popularly patronizes your business.

For example, if 20% of your users are from Japan, then you can translate the most visited pages into Japanese.

If your business does sell products and services to other countries and you need some of your web pages translated into a foreign language, we wrote an article on how to get it done.

Better yet, contact us and we’ll have your web pages translated to the desired foreign language for you.



Website.That .Will .Grow .Your .Business

4. Deliver a Stress-Free Navigation Experience

When highlighting the value of e-commerce websites for retail businesses, we like to pull out the supermarket analogy.

Yes, spending time at the local supermarket can be a relaxing experience. However, new shoppers might feel like they’re in a maze. Finding the items you want can be a challenging experience if you’re not familiar with how the aisles are organized inside the supermarket.

Your e-commerce website might give shoppers the same feeling if navigating in and around its pages isn’t easy. A 2019 survey conducted by Clutch showed that 94% of respondents identified ease of navigation as the most important feature of a website.

For example, your online business sells running shoes. If a shopper is at the checkout counter and realizes he wants a different color of shoes, the page should make it easy for him to change his choice without having to leave the checkout counter.

Focusing on efficiency and functionality is a good approach. This means removing unnecessary content on the page and keeping the design clean and simple.

On the flip side, some websites take minimalism to the extreme. In their effort to come up with a clean design, the key features and icons are kept so well hidden that it takes the user a significant amount of time to find the menu bar.

Make sure the menu bar is easy to find and that its sub-directories are identified. There must be a balance between aesthetic design and functionality.

5. Keep Your Users Engaged and Involved

Let’s stay with our example of a business that sells running shoes online.

Your research methodology included e-mailed surveys, interviews with regular runners, analysis of social media feedback, visits to competitor websites, and the involvement of control groups.

Based on the data you’ve gathered, the initial iteration of the website would have the following features:

  • Mobile responsive.
  • Extensive product descriptions.
  • The images used throughout the website, particularly the home page, would showcase trail running shoes and brands with a higher-end price point of US$150 to US$200.
  • Links embedded from the YouTube channel that feature videos about trail running shoes, informational videos on running tips, and how-tos.
  • Blog page with articles on running, diet and supplementation, race preparation guidelines, and training programs.
  • A Call-to-Action (CTA) such as a free e-book on topics such as “How to Choose the Right Running Shoe” and “A Winning 4-Week Running Program For Your Next 5k Race”.
  • Chat plugin with AI and human support for 24/7 sales and customer service.
  • The zoom-in feature is available on all products.
  • Automatic send out of a cart abandonment email.
  • Automatic email confirmation on confirmed purchases and delivery schedules.

Factors such as site speed, navigability, functionality, the quality of the CTA’s, the quality of content, and the availability of built-in interactive features will be compared to other footwear websites that were frequently patronized by the respondents.

As the business grows, so will the profile and preferences of your site users. You will have to improve the usability, functionality, and aesthetic appeal of your website to reflect the changes in the behaviors of your users.

Thus, it’s important to keep the site users engaged and involved throughout the life of your website. Update the results of your research by reaching out to the previous respondents and study participants as well as involve new customers.

Solicit their opinions and get their suggestions on how to make your website better for them.

6. Incorporate Guiding Systems

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re filling out a form and are confused about the type of information requested by the company? You look around and see if there’s anybody – anyone – you can approach for help.

Site users can feel that way when they’re on your website. You want to make sure they don’t feel lost and helpless when interacting with a website feature such as a form or the checkout counter.

For example, you offer business consultancy services. The website user clicks on “Accounting” as the service he’s interested in. However, the user has a business that only earns US$100,000 per year. The lowest range presented by your website is US$150,000.

What are the options for the user? You can include a box with a description below that reads:

“Please click on this box if your business earns less than US$150,000 a year.”

When the user clicks on it, he ends up on a different landing page that requests additional information about his business. You can offer the user lower-priced packages for your services.

The bottom line is when you have a visitor on your page, don’t let him go by giving him reasons to click out of your website.


UCD is ideal in today’s age when businesses aren’t just focusing on taking a personalized approach. They want to customize the experience to meet the needs and expectations of the specific end-user.

Incorporating the principles of UCD in web design works because you become a proactive partner in the strategic relationship with your customers. They will feel valued because their interests are taken care of and prioritized.

UX will help your website get recognized as the best one-stop solution destination URL on the internet. UCD will make it feel like home for users.

If you want to learn more about UCD in web design, give us a call or drop us an email. We’ll give you a free 30-minute consultation to discuss the right UCD approach for your website.

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