For the past 2 decades, we have seen our technological capabilities advance very rapidly. From the iPod to smartphones, to Cloud platforms and Zoom, the world is rapidly evolving, and it is imperative to stay in tune with this change. Similarly, websites and mobile applications are always evolving in terms of their features, accessibility, and benefits. Typically, their evolution was mostly tied to visual designs and layouts. As we know it, 2020 is a different beast, and design best practices are continuously evolving for websites and mobile apps. As of 2021, search engines will place heavy emphasis on User Experience Design. UX design deals with understanding and improving the way customers and clients interact with a company’s product or service online. How a prospect interacts with your company’s website is directly related to the user experience design of the platform. This is why designers constantly seek to improve the experience that their company’s product or service offers by studying user’s behavior on web and mobile platforms. 

A good UX offers a smooth and pleasant journey for prospects, minimizing any negative associations they may have with the brand on their first interaction. Quite simply, good user experience leads to more revenue generation. Think back to a time when you witnessed certain elements of a webpage pop around your screen while a page was loading or had to reach very far with your thumb for a commonly used button in an app? Chances are you were frustrated (i.e. you experienced a negative user experience). 

Before we explore how to adapt to Google’s new Search Engine Ranking policies, let’s briefly revisit how User Interface Design and User Experience Design complement each other. 

How User Interface (UI) & User Experience (UX) Design Work Together

Today, the difference between UI and UX is no longer subtle but these two designs do tie together in a very important way. User interface design deals purely with the visual experience while user experience focuses on the overall journey a user embarks from start to finish. We can visualize the relationship of how these two disciplines tie together in a product with a Venn diagram.

User Interface design deals with the look and feel of a company’s website or application. The look and feel of websites and applications strongly correlate with general design trends that we see take place from big corporations such as Apple, Microsoft etc.

Take for example the release of the first iPhone in 2007, when Steve Jobs introduced the world to touchscreen technology. The iPhone revolutionized the world as it was the first mobile smartphone without a physical keyboard, changing human interactions with digital products as we know it. Beyond the revolutionary physical aspects of this new mobile gadget, the iPhone contained a skeuomorphic interface design; features were designed to resemble real-life features.

Game centre & Find my friends Apps

Fifteen years ago, this was a considered a remarkable breakthrough in design technology. But Apple’s ingenuity did not stop there as it continuously improved the user’s experience on its smartphone by optimizing it’s IOS’s interface design in 2013 with the release of IOS 7 and it’s new Flat Design; all visual elements such as icons, fonts and keyboards became more abstract and minimal.

Game centre & Find my friends Apps

It is not just Apple and applications that switched to this Flat-Design feature; websites also shifted to a Flat Design. 2008 vs 2020

Our reliance on interface design is continuously growing thanks to new minimalistic design features incorporated onto new products released every day. For example, when Apple released the iPhone X in 2018, the new smartphone no longer contained its classic home button feature, paving the way for businesses to become even more proactive on improving their user interface design.

Having understood the core principles of these design practices, it is important to understand that they deeply affect the perceived value of the product or service displayed, which will now contribute to your Google Search Engine Rankings.

New Google Policies Promote Good User Experience

All web and application design agencies know the importance of crafting a good user experience as it relates to building a brand. The easier you make it for customers and prospects to buy or input more information in certain fields, the faster you will generate revenue or leads. 

There are multiple consequences of having poor UX design in mobile and web platforms:

  1. Higher customer acquisition costs
  2. Negative brand association
  3. Low search ranking on Google (soon)

Whenever a company releases a new product or service, internal marketing teams must keep track of how many consumers this product is attracting and why. Furthermore, the quality of the UX design put into a website or app is directly proportional to customer acquisition. The more users bounce off your page, the more users marketers will need to remarket too, increasing a company’s marketing spend. 

Furthermore, when prospects make a search query on search engines, it is extremely important for companies to improve their search engine rankings so to answer a prospect’s query first. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) simply refers to increasing the visibility and traffic of a website to users of a search engine (Google, Yahoo etc.). Most search engines are always releasing content and best practices for businesses to improve their rankings on their platform.  

Google’s Search Console for example, is a powerful resource for companies to optimize their ranking performance on Google, the most popular search engine on the internet. Although Google’s Search Console will definitely help you rank higher, Google recently released a new ranking aspect to their search engine; User Experience.

Google plans on making this effective as of January 2021 in order to incentivize businesses and developers to optimize user experiences on their platforms and rank higher on search engines. Thus, it is imperative to understand how Google will analyze both your UX and UI design to rank your websites.

How Google Will Rank Your User Experience Design 

UX was never really a critical search engine ranking element, until now. In a recently published article, Google has announced that they will start to evaluate websites’ overall page experience (UX) in order to rank websites on their search engine. This is a game changer, especially for popular products whose websites might not have the best overall UX design. For the world’s most popular website and search engine, every single website that wishes to be listed among the top ranks will have to improve their customers’ journeys on their websites. This is why adhering to user experience best practices is vitally important. 

Google further explains what websites need to have to remain competitive and how it defines page experience. Google will track Core Web Vitals, a set of user-focused Key Performance Indicators that track user experience across 3 dimensions: page load time, interactivity, and content stability. For more technical-savvy connoisseurs, the following metrics are geared towards measuring Core Web Vitals:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): 
    • Overall loading performance of the page
      • Should fall under 2.5 seconds.
  • First Input Delay (FID): 
    • Measures page interactivity 
      • Should be less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): 
    • Measures the stability of content on a page
      • Should be below 0.1 to provide a good user experience.

A Breakdown of Google’s Ranking Factors 

Developers and website owners need not to worry however about exploding their marketing budget on user experience right away as Google also assured that websites with great content will still rank high but only lower to those with similar content and better page experience.

A Breakdown of Google’s Ranking Factors 

Simple Actions You Can Take Right Now to Improve User Experience and Search Engine Rankings

Use Frameworks to Develop a Good User Experience Design

It is very rare to find web developers that build a website from raw HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It is time consuming and difficult to make it user friendly, quick, and responsive. Nowadays, web development frameworks ease the daunting tasks of making a website responsive or quicker. These frameworks come in a wide variety and offer different perks but overall help the developer make a better website, faster. For example, React.js is a web development framework developed by Facebook that offers state saving, which is a fancy way of saying that specific contents of a webpage at a particular time will be saved even when they are no longer displayed. When the content is requested again from the same user, they are then loaded almost instantaneously, offering a smoother web experience.

Carefully Select Appropriate Typography and Colour Schemes

Instagram is famously known for its cursive and unique logo type font and Facebook for its blue appearance. Certain features such as colour schemes and fonts, are quick to meet he eyes of consumers and generate a lasting first impression. Different colours and fonts display different moods. For example, green is often associated with learning, environment, and nature, while blue sets a tone for calmness and safety. 

For fonts, serif type fonts are more formal and trustworthy while sans serif fonts exhibit tones of modernity and cleanliness. Choosing a proper font and colour scheme is essential to the design and overall experience that a webpage has to offer.

Keep Your Website & App Design Simple by Adhering to Best Practices

When it comes to the structure of a webpage, it is not recommended to deviate from existing best practices. For example, navigation bars should always be either on the top or the left of a page and never on the right (acceptable for mobile resolution) or bottom. The bottom of an app or website is typically content space reserved for contact information, location, terms of service, privacy policy etc. This is not a convention, but rather a psychological fact; most people have the tendency to read information from left to right, top to bottom. Therefore, in order to take advantage of human psychology, prioritized information as well as components in a structure must follow this order.

If you apply all these best practices, your business, prospects, customers, apps, and websites will reap the following benefits:

  • Quick loading speed, and quick response times.
  • Enjoy mobile, tablet, and web responsiveness.
  • A colour scheme and typography that conveys the value of the platform.
  • A great User Interface design. 
  • Good User Experience that lowers the customer acquisition costs of a business. 
  • Improves Search Engine rankings on Google as per their new policy.

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