Why: The Most Important Question in Digital Design
Taylor CyganAugust 15th, 20184 minute read
Taylor is a content writing intern at Codal, authoring blog posts anywhere from UX design to other facets of the vast World Wide Web. Working alongside the talented members of the Codal team, Taylor works to produce relevant and engaging content. When she’s not immersed in the world of development and design services, Taylor spends her time: reading classic American literature, binge-watching a Netflix series, or ordering an excessively large iced coffee from her local Starbucks.
So you’ve clicked on this article, have started to skim its masterfully composed words, and have marveled at its eye-popping graphics; however, by now, you’ve also subconsciously done something else. You’ve made a judgment.
Studies show that humans make a judgment in 50 milliseconds (or ½ a second), whether we intend to or not. And if you’re involved in the world of digital design (like we are as a UX design company), this statistic holds some weight. When a user first sees your app or website, you have half of a second to make a positive impression on them.
After reading that statistic, it’s likely that your inner alarmist is going off. As a digital designer you must be asking: How can you make a positive impression in that miniscule timeframe?
I’m going to counter you with a new idea. When it comes to design you should be asking yourself, “Why?”
In order to create a solid design, our UX company asks “why” whenever we make our products. And “why” exactly do we do that? Here are two reasons:
A Streamlined Design
Before you are making a design decision, you should have a moment of reflection and ask yourself “why,” to see if it's really necessary. For example: why do you need that button, why are you creating that page, why do you need that hover feature?
These are all introspective questions that you can ask yourself to determine if a design choice is integral to the rest of the experience.
The experience that you are providing should be light and streamlined, making it easy for your user to navigate and pick what information is the most applicable. Your design should be clean, void of any confusing or frivolous features. Sometimes less is truly more.
If your design is cluttered, a user may make the active choice to click off of your site. Statistics show that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or the layout is unattractive.
That’s precisely why you should be asking “why.” If your design is poor, hard to navigate, or lacking aesthetic, you risk users choosing not to engage any longer and clicking off of your page.
Odds are, if you, the designer, can’t determine why you have a certain feature— your user probably won’t miss it.
In the digital landscape, this is what UX essentially boils down to. You should be ensuring that every design choice is enhancing your user’s experience and making the site easier for them to navigate.
When it comes to a user’s experience, every design choice should be intentional, and that’s why we recommend you ask yourself ‘why.’ It’s a simple question, but this inquiry can bring you back in tune with what you are really designing for: your user.
The Flow of Your Website
As the designer, asking yourself “why” with your design choices can also confirm that your website is seamless. You should ensure that your transitions between pages or from your call-to-action (CTA) to your form, are all designed in a way that makes sense, but also feels part-to-whole with your site.
You should be asking yourself “why do I want to add those features,” in order to ensure your site’s flow. Another example of a question you could pose is, “Why do I think this feature adds to the flow of my site or provides a seamless transition?” That way, you can take a step back, and make sure your design choices are helping, not hurting, your site’s transitions.
If you come up with a justifiable and logical answer to those questions, then you are on the right track to provide your user with solid UX and a well-designed website.
And that’s just another one of your jobs as a digital designer, to provide an experience that is cohesive for your user. In the UX realm, we want to ensure that we are providing an experience through our design that is not tumultuous, but all-encompassing and easy.
You should be providing your user with a logical progression of steps. For example, your page should lead to your call-to-action, and your user should not feel jarred by the proposition of this form. Rather, your website should be designed to make this proposition feel like the next logical step.
By simply asking yourself “why,” you can look at your design from a UX perspective. A sample question of this could be, “Why do I feel like this feature is helping my UX and the structure of my website?” If you touch base with your overall design and the UX it is providing, then you are one step closer towards providing a digital design that presents your material in the most effective way possible.
‘Why’ Should You Not Take This On Alone?
Asking yourself “why” in digital design will help you evaluate if your designs are providing your user with the best experience.
If your site has a lighter design and only has the essentials, it can also help with your page’s loading time. And if you’re an eCommerce site, it may just help your site with bounce rate or shopping cart abandonment rate.
It will also allow you to take a step back and take a birds-eye view of your design. With this newfound perspective, you can analyze if your design is achieving all the goals you hoped to achieve with your UX. Distancing yourself from your design with the question “why,” will allow you to have a fresh set of eyes on your work and view it from a user’s perspective.