What exactly do we mean by a ‘user-centered’ approach?

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If you spend any amount of time at our web development company, you'll likely hear us talk about our user-centered approach to custom web development.

But what exactly is a "user-centered" approach?

It's not just some fancy buzzword we use to sound hip; it's the guiding principle for everything we build and create.

Simply put, a user-centered approach to web design and development means being an advocate for your users, their needs and their goals. The difference between a successful web product and a mediocre one is the amount of time you spend getting to know your users before you create a single page design or write a single line of code.

There are some specific components to a user-centered approach as well:

Conventionality

Your web product should follow accepted user experience best practices. For example, your logo should be at the top left of the page and should take the user to the homepage when clicked. Links should change color or state when you hover over them. Simple best practices like these go a long way toward making your site user-friendly.

Consistency

Is there a consistent look and feel as you click through your website or application? Are the font styles the same? The visual design and color scheme? The tone of the content? The button labels? A lack of consistency throughout your web product can lead to user confusion and dissatisfaction. Making everything consistent requires a strong attention to detail.

Accessibility

Before you start building, make sure you know how your users are going to access your product. Do a majority of them use a phone or tablet? Are they Chrome-heads or Firefox fiends? Ensuring cross-device and cross-browser compatibility is essential to any user-centered approach.

Navigability

Users should be able to accomplish the most important tasks in the fewest number of clicks or keystrokes. Are key pages or sections of your site prominent in the main navigation? Is that main navigation as simple and succinct as possible? Does your web property have a search function? Users should enjoy exploring your website. It shouldn't feel like work.

Simplicity

When all else fails, keep it simple, stupid. (No offense.) There is a real sense of elegance and usefulness in simplicity. Before you decide to add a new piece of functionality, take a minute to question whether your users will truly find it valuable, or whether it's just something that'd be fun to have. The most feature-rich website or app is pointless if people don't find it useful. It's not about what you want, it's about what your users need.

"Many companies and organizations make their web projects about them, not their users," Integrity Founder and CEO John Simanowitz said. "An experienced web development company will form a deep understanding of your users and build an amazing product that accommodates their needs."

If you're ready to take a user-centered approach to your web project, we're here to help. Contact us today.

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