Any design that you implement should not just be aesthetically pleasing and appropriately representative of your original aims, but also practical and intuitive from a user perspective.
The best way to appreciate why user-led design is appealing is to illustrate its benefits with some examples, so here are just five instances of excellence in this sphere.
USA Online Casino Review Sites
Some of the sites which rate the best USA online casinos, such as bestcasinosites.net, are a good starting point for exploring user-led design, because they arguably represent this in its purest form.
In this context, the aim of the site is to present information to visitors quickly and coherently. There is no room for unnecessarily lengthy introductions, or indeed any other visual clutter. Instead, the top sites are ranked unambiguously, with the main metrics that users will be interested in seeing displayed front and center.
A similar approach is adopted across the majority of comparison sites, whether the thing being compared is gambling services, internet providers or insurance packages. These sites have learned that although they could give into the temptation of making pages arbitrarily attractive, this will actually hamper their effectiveness. And it is only through user testing and frequent tweaking that this conclusion has been reached.
Retailers have embraced user-led design more than many other businesses in recent years, with a growing demand for personalization encouraging brands to adopt a more flexible approach to everything from site formatting to product recommendations and beyond.
While some critics might argue that this has led to a narrowing of the options that are available to customers, with the experience shaped more by algorithmic interpretations of past behavior than on actual need, it is undeniably an interesting development which has had far-reaching consequences.
ASOS.com is a good example of this; first time visitors are treated to a simple, unfussy homepage, with offers tailored to the fact that they have never used the site before based on their browser cookies, to boost conversion rates. Return customers, on the other hand, will have an experience that is tailored to them, hanging on the same underlying framework of design.
Digital Service Sites
There are a huge number of sites set up by businesses that sell digital services to commercial buyers and consumers alike, so standing out in this marketplace is tricky.
One way of doing this is to implement eye-catching, user-led design through the medium of on-page animations that highlight elements that are most relevant or simply maintain the attention of the visitor, rather than allowing their minds to wander elsewhere.
SquadEasy has an intriguingly in-your-face interpretation of this principle on its site, combining a vibrant green background against simple black text for the copy, while making the star of the show an animated, three-dimensional dog’s head.
This eccentric feature is not suited to every brand, for obvious reasons, but here it really works. It plays on the fact that while the animation itself is not really a practical part of the page, it leverages the user’s desire to see how the dog responds to their inputs, eyes spinning as you scroll and moving to follow the cursor. This means that users will innately be compelled to stay on the page and, more importantly, scroll down and thus reveal more information about the digital service that the company offers.
The lesson to learn here is that user-led design can seem illogical or irrelevant on a superficial level, while actually delivering tangible, quantifiable benefits once you dig a little deeper.
Video Streaming Sites
The issue of accessibility has been catapulted up the agenda for user-led design, with disability campaigners rightly pointing out that so many designs and features of sites and apps have been implemented without any thought being given to their suitability for use by those with certain impairments.
In the case of YouTube, this has led to a fairly radical set of changes which are built around not only adopting user-led design across the platform, but also relying partly on user-generate solutions to the problems that existed in the past.
Adding video captions which are not only available as auto-generated, AI-based interpretations of the audio of a given clip, but also empowering creators with tools to add their own subtitles and accessibility-enhancing features to videos has gone a long way to addressing former deficiencies, for example.
More so than in any other context, sites that deal with current affairs need to be designed in a way that allows the content to shine through, and draw users in with clearly-presented stories, rather than overwhelming them with images, text and video.
Although paywalled, one of the best examples of design that puts users’ needs first is The Times. Sections of the site are presented sequentially, with a balanced use of multimedia and copy, while the menu bar remains present at all times for ease of access.
Ultimately, all of these examples of user-led design have only been achieved through testing with actual users, and by listening to feedback so that unforeseen issues can be fixed. These lessons are worth learning no matter what you are designing.