SoBold has been working with Cloudways since 2019 to help host development environments for all of their clients.
You can learn more about Cloudways, Managed Cloud Hosting services by visiting their website here.
See what they had to say in the video below.
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- 1,920px – This covers most external computer monitor sizes
- 1,366px – This covers most laptop screen sizes
- 992px – This covers most Notebook and iPad devices
- 768px – This covers most other tablet devices
- 375px – This covers most smartphones.
- Keep your design simple and your content succinct
- Prioritise the preferences and best interests of your target audience
- Make your design elements as clear as possible
- Maintain consistency
- Ensure your brand, and your company’s identity, have been accurately represented through the design
- Use power of visual imagery to capture and retain your visitors’ attention
- Make your call-to-action as strong and compelling as possible
- Don’t create anything that interferes with the goals of your UX.
- Use contrast and blank space to make your content easy to perceive
- Use bold colours
- Use font sizes no smaller than 14px for desktop and 13px for mobile across the whole site (although, this does depend on the font you use)
- Use headings and structure correctly to organise content clearly on each page
- Make all your content easy to both see and hear
- Write all your copy in plain, simple language
- Avoid any flashing or blinking imagery or video content
- Write simple, clear, and helpful error messages.
- Simple, intuitive navigation
- Clear, logical page and content structure
- Large text that’s easy to read
- Clear input boxes
- Helpful error messages
- Simple password requirements
- Large buttons and clickable icons
- Easy undo, edit, and cancel capabilities
- Reliable refresh and back buttons
- Refresh functions that retain any input information
- Tapping or clicking buttons, rather than hovering over
- The ability to pause and scroll through auto-rotating carousels
- Videos with the option of closed-captioning
- Auto-fill for information input in forms.
- Optimise your site to ensure its pages load quickly
- Make all your site’s content is easy to perceive and consume
- Be consistent
- Give your site a simple, logical structure and navigation
- Use responsive design to maintain usability across different devices and screen sizes
- Use proper headings and sub-headings to organise your pages well
- Make sure clickable buttons and links stand out
- Use distinctive colours and contrast on your pages alongside white space
- Avoid making any of the text, buttons, or other touch-points too small
- Provide clear, useful error messages.
- More efficient and effective digital processes and services (both internally and externally)
- Greater adoption and usage rates
- Quicker, stronger ROI
- Improved user or customer retention and loyalty
- Commercial business growth.
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19 May, 2023
WebFlow vs WordPress: Which Platform is Right for You?
Finding a content management system (CMS) that is secure, cost-effective, and capable of delivering a website that meets all your requirements can be challenging.
As we’ve discussed in a previous article, there are lots of excellent CMSs available today, and it’s difficult to know which one will be the best fit for your specific business.
While most CMSs appear similar on the surface, with the same fundamental functionality, popular platforms like Webflow and WordPress have unique features and capabilities that differentiate them from each other.
So, selecting between these two different platforms is an important process that requires careful consideration. After all, your CMS is a long-term investment, and you need to know exactly what you’re getting before you make your decision.
To ease this challenge for you, this article will provide a direct, objective comparison between the Webflow and WordPress platforms.
An Overview of Each Platform
You want a CMS that will enable you to build sophisticated, high-performance websites, tailored to your business, with a set of tools that are simple and easy-to-use.
Webflow and WordPress can both give you exactly that in their own distinctive styles. Both platforms allow you to build and manage complex websites without deep technical knowledge, but they each take slightly different approaches.
Webflow is a software-as-a-service product, not a typical CMS. That means it doesn’t require any hosting and is primarily delivered via Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud servers.
As it’s a complete, mostly self-contained SaaS application, with everything built-in to it from the start, you can get up and running with your Webflow website quickly and easily.
You can use Webflow as a basic no-code website builder straight away. However, as you’ll certainly want to create a more dynamic, engaging website with a high volume of content, you’ll have to enable its CMS functionality to get up and running properly.
WordPress, on the other hand, is a more traditional CMS, intended to build highly scalable, dynamic websites full of rich content. The platform will need to be downloaded on to hosting servers, which can all be taken care of for you if you’re going to be working with an agency partner.
WordPress is also a free, open-source platform, which means all users have access to its code. That allows talented developers to contribute to improving the platform with innovative new additions and enhancements on a near-constant basis.
As WordPress is used to build almost half the websites online today, it also has a global community made up of millions of users who offer support, collaboration, knowledge sharing, events, and much more.
Approachability and Ease-of-Use
A shared benefit of both Webflow and WordPress over certain other CMSs is their ease-of-use.
Both these platforms are approachable with low barriers for entry, even if you don’t have any existing coding or content management experience.
As a low-code or no-code SaaS tool, almost anyone can use Webflow to build a website.
It provides a visual drag-and-drop builder with an emphasis on enabling users to create websites quickly and easily.
When using the CMS functionality to add more content to your website, like blog posts, the CMS is simple, allowing you to publish and manage the pages of your site with great efficiency. This is in the style of a classic content editor, which will probably be familiar to you.
Almost anyone can use WordPress as well, even if you have no previous content management experience, hence its global popularity. In fact, simplicity and usability are arguably some of WordPress’s greatest strengths.
Almost everything you’ll need to set up and manage your website will be readily available when you first start using WordPress, making it very approachable. The platform provides you with an intuitive user interface (UI) that allows quick and easy publishing, management, and editing of content.
This is made even more efficient thanks to WordPress’s block-based editor. This is a method of building websites that offers significant advantages in flexibility, scalability, and ease-of-use.
Particularly for large-scale websites that are likely to grow and evolve, this can save your developers valuable time and money, while also reducing your time-to-market.
Their Features and Functionality
For your investment in your CMS to be successful, it will need to have a range of features and functionality which allow you to create a website that delivers on your business objectives.
As touched on earlier, Webflow is a SaaS application in which almost everything you need is included as standard.
The core Webflow platform is all you need to build your site, although your agency will be able to add extra features for you by embedding code snippets from other services if you need them.
For example, if you want to create the ability for your visitors to subscribe to your site as members, you could take code from another platform that facilitates subscriptions and use that to integrate the functionality.
This is where the platforms start to deviate in approach. Webflow’s self-contained nature perhaps makes it a simpler platform because it doesn’t require many plugins, but that also makes it a lot more limited than WordPress.
Because Webflow doesn’t offer any plugins, you won’t be able to add many extensions that work directly in the Webflow interface. This prevents you from having one unified approach to your website management and marketing.
Most of the things you require to publish content and manage your website on a daily basis come readily available on the WordPress platform. WordPress’s sophisticated, dynamic features that come “out-of-the-box” are a great point of value.
However, if you do need to go beyond the standard functionality of WordPress, that can also be done with relative ease. Working with an agency with WordPress-specific expertise means that you can develop bespoke features and functionality unique to your website with almost no limitations.
This allows you to tailor your CMS to meet your specific needs, and working with an agency to achieve this can still be very cost-effective.
Not only that, but passionate members of the global community are always working hard to create new features and extensions that continue to improve the capabilities of the platform for free.
How Well do they Integrate with Other Systems?
Beyond features, extensions, and plugins, your platform of choice should also be able to integrate easily with other tools and systems that are already present within your business.
Integrating with your customer relationship management (CRM) platform, your email marketing system, and other software products is an important quality for a CMS to have.
Integrating with Webflow
While Webflow can integrate with some third-party tools, this is another area where the platform is somewhat limited. You can integrate your Webflow site with other tools, but there aren’t many native integrations available. Your agency partner will need to use more code embeds to achieve this, and you’ll have to use separate interfaces in many situations.
For example, using a lead generation form from your CRM on a Webflow site will require you to build the form in the CRM first, then add it to your web page using the embed code.
Not only does this approach create inconvenience for you and your team, but the extra time spent by your agency on more complex integrations will increase the overall long-term cost of the platform.
Integrating with WordPress
Thanks to WordPress’s vast popularity, and the work of the global community, there are native plugins that can seamlessly integrate your WordPress site with almost any other tool or system.
Simply add a plugin for any third-party tool to create the ability to access that tool’s functionality directly within your WordPress CMS.
Even for more advanced requirements that need some bespoke development, like cross-platform automation, it’s usually an easier job for your development agency than it would be with most other platforms.
How Secure Are these Platforms?
Security should be a top priority when selecting a CMS. Concerns over cyber security and data protection are ever-increasing for businesses, so you need to ensure something as important as your website is fully secure.
Webflow is mostly based on AWS, an industry leader in secure hosting, so you can rest assured your platform will be highly secure. Webflow also has additional protective measures in place to bolster the security of all the data on the platform.
Again, because it’s a SaaS product, this all comes out-the-box and doesn’t require you to take any steps yourself to secure your site.
However, that does mean you’re entirely reliant on Webflow to ensure that security is continually updated and reinforced. Neither you nor your agency partner have any control over the security of your site, which some businesses see as a negative.
Your agency partner will typically be responsible for the hosting, maintenance, and security of your WordPress platform. We mention hosting and maintenance here because these things are influential towards ensuring your platform, and your website, are kept secure.
WordPress is already a very secure platform out-of-the-box, though. There’s no need to think that WordPress’s protection is not robust enough for a large business, even in today’s volatile security landscape. Evidence of this security can be found in the number of global enterprise businesses that have chosen WordPress as their CMS.
Of course, there are vulnerabilities that can arise in certain scenarios, like if your platform isn’t kept fully updated on a constant basis. For this reason, it’s crucial to work with an agency partner who you can trust and rely on when it comes to security, including enterprise-grade hosting and continual platform maintenance.
The Overall Cost and CTO
As mentioned earlier, your CMS is not only a big investment, it’s also a long-term one. You ideally need to find a platform that offers good value for money, and a low total cost of ownership (TCO), in order to achieve a strong return on investment (ROI).
Your TCO will be determined by combining everything from your hosting costs, license fees, work with your agency, maintenance, bespoke development, and more.
In terms of costs and plans, Webflow is more expensive than WordPress. This SaaS product offers two different types of plans, a site plan and a workplace plan.
The average enterprise business with a dynamic website will be looking at costs of between £300 and £500 with Webflow. This makes it a far more cost-effective alternative than large-scale CSMs like Sitecore.
As discussed throughout this article, though, Webflow’s lack of native plugins and integrations will also make bespoke development work more difficult and time-consuming for your agency. This will inevitably drive up the platform’s TCO, and that’s something you should carefully consider when evaluating your options.
WordPress is a more cost-effective platform, with a generally low TCO for most businesses. Its open-source nature means it’s free to use, limiting your initial costs to just hosting, agency fees, and post-deployment support. Any plugins or extensions of the platform will be licensed and paid for separately.
Since WordPress is such an intuitive and easy-to-use platform, any bespoke development work you need your agency partner to complete will still come at a reasonable cost. Similarly, whenever the WordPress platform is updated, testing and maintaining your site can be done in just a few hours. This creates a significantly lower TCO than you’d have with almost all other enterprise CMSs.
Make the Right Choice for Your Business
Webflow and WordPress are both good platforms in their own right, with plenty of value to offer. The key thing to understand when making this comparison is that your CMS of choice needs to align with your business’s unique requirements and specific objectives.
For instance, Webflow might be a suitable choice for one of your smaller competitors, but that doesn’t mean it will necessarily be a good fit for you if you need more advanced features and functionality.
Whether you’re developing a bespoke website from scratch, or migrating your existing site to a new platform, you must ensure your CMS can deliver on your needs both now and as your business grows over time.
If you need further help selecting a CMS for your website project, read our comprehensive guide to understanding and evaluating the options for large businesses here.
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26 May, 2023
Contentful vs WordPress: Which Platform is the Best Choice for You?
Deciding between two content management systems (CMS) is no easy task. Your CMS is an important long-term investment, so you must ensure you choose a platform that will meet all your requirements, both now and in future.
If you’re currently weighing up the pros and cons between Contentful and WordPress, there are some key differences between the two platforms that you should be aware of.
To make this evaluation process easier for you, and help you pick the best option for your business, this article provides a direct, objective comparison between these platforms.
Different types of software will provide you with different capabilities and limitations. The Contentful and WordPress platforms can both deliver quality enterprise-grade websites, but they each take a slightly different approach.
Contentful is a cloud-based “headless” CMS. Being headless means that the back-end of the platform you use to publish, edit, and manage content is not directly connected to the front-end of your live website.
Your content is managed and stored in one central hub, hosted within the cloud, and this is the back-end of your platform (also known as the “body”). APIs are then used to take your content from the back-end and present it in website form.
A headless CMS gives you a high level of flexibility and customisation with your website’s front-end. These same APIs allow you to publish your content in different formats in different channels as well, facilitating a multi-channel approach to marketing.
This makes Contentful a flexible platform that can meet a range of different content requirements, but it is admittedly more complicated than the traditional approach to website management.
WordPress is a traditional CMS that provides a more straightforward approach to managing your website. You can use WordPress to build sophisticated, dynamic sites with a simple, user-friendly set of tools.
While most businesses use WordPress in the traditional way, the platform can be leveraged with a headless approach as well, allowing it to match the scalability and multi-channel capabilities of solutions like Contentful.
WordPress gives you the flexibility to choose how you’d like to develop your website, based on the complexity and size of the project, and the objectives you’re trying to achieve. In the likely case that you’re working with a web design and development agency, that can all be handled for you by your partner.
The Scalability of Each Platform
Your business will grow and evolve over time, so you need a platform that can quickly and easily scale up with new features and functionality. You also need to ensure the platform can handle high volumes of traffic and maintain performance as your audience grows. That’s why scalability is one of the most important aspects to consider when choosing a CMS.
How Scalable is Contentful?
One of the main benefits of a headless CMS is that the infrastructure allows you to grow your digital presence rapidly, on a large scale.
The back-end offers easy customisation, and the cloud-based nature of the platform allows you to scale up dynamically whenever you need to.
Its multi-channel capabilities also inherently promote the idea of developing your content in different formats at a larger scale, while always maintaining consistency. This enables you to produce individual pieces of content once and easily repurpose them across different channels a number of times, saving valuable time and resources.
This can all be done without any concerns over technical issues like server capacity or network bandwidth, because the platform is delivered in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.
How Scalable is WordPress?
WordPress is a highly scalable platform in its own right, currently used to power the websites of some of the largest and most successful businesses in the world.
The platform is agile and scalable enough to grow seamlessly alongside your business and adapt to your changing requirements, whichever way you decide to use it.
As mentioned earlier, taking the headless approach with WordPress can provide the same enhanced scalability and pervasive multi-channel capabilities as Contentful, if you require those aspects from your CMS. This can also deliver benefits with speed of development and time-to-market, saving you valuable costs with your agency partner.
Expanding your WordPress site with the more traditional approach is made even easier than most other CMSs as well, thanks to the platform’s unique block-based editor. This is a method of building websites that provides great benefits in the areas of flexibility, efficiency, and ease-of-use.
WordPress also allows you to continually enhance your site with new features and functionality through bespoke development, with almost no limitations on what can be achieved.
Like all technology, some tools are more approachable for the majority of users, while others will require some existing skills. This makes ease-of-use a key part of your criteria when selecting a platform to manage your website. You’ll be using it almost every day, after all, so you need to be comfortable with it.
How Easy is Contentful to Use?
While Contentful being solely a headless CMS does have its advantages, such as scalability and customisation, this approach also creates some challenges for the average user.
For example, adding content to Contentful can be difficult because it doesn’t provide you with a way to preview how your content will look in the front-end of the website.
Contentful doesn’t have a simple editing interface on the front-end, so there’s a much higher risk of error with this platform than with most others.
Granted, Contentful’s user interface (UI) is well structured and intuitive, but it’s also known for being more difficult for non-technical users than platforms like WordPress.
Handling the API rules is also complicated without the help of an experienced web development team. If you’re working with an agency, you may end up calling on them regularly for tasks that you could likely handle yourself in other CMSs.
How Easy is WordPress to Use?
Conversely, WordPress is renowned for its simplicity and ease-of-use. Even if you don’t have any existing knowledge of coding or content management, WordPress is very approachable and easy to learn.
When you first get started with WordPress, virtually everything you need to set up and manage your website will be readily available within the platform.
Publishing, managing, and editing in WordPress are all quick and convenient, thanks to an intuitive back-end that provides you with everything you need to build out a content-rich website.
Thanks to this ease-of-use, most of the people within your team will be able to use WordPress, allowing you to share the responsibility of the daily management and running of your site.
It is worth noting that taking a headless approach with WordPress does also require experienced web developers to be able to manage the platform though.
Security should always be a top priority with any software you introduce into your business. If you’re considering a CMS that seems like it could be unable to provide the enterprise-grade security you need, it’s wise to continue looking for more reliable alternatives.
How Secure is Contentful?
As a cloud-based SaaS product, Contentful comes with useful in-built security features, including HTTPS data encryption, role-based access controls, and multi-factor authentication.
Headless CMSs also take a different approach to security compared to traditional platforms like WordPress. Its use of APIs allows you to control access to your content through a token-based authentication system, and it uses industry-standard encryption and secure storage measures to protect your data. With that in mind, Contentful should be seen as a very secure and robust platform.
How Secure is WordPress?
WordPress is a secure, platform. To find proof of this, you only need to look as far as the wealth of global enterprise businesses that have chosen WordPress as their CMS.
As with any software, though, there will always be vulnerabilities or potential risks that can arise in certain scenarios. For example, WordPress regularly releases updates to its software, and failing to test your platform upon these releases could lead to bugs or security issues creeping in. Similarly, certain plugins can create security problems if taken from the wrong sources or left untested for too long.
Finding an experienced agency partner you can depend on is usually a wise move to reinforce the security of your website. That partner will also be able to support you with important related services like hosting, maintenance, and ongoing optimisation.
Cost and TCO
Your CMS also needs to deliver good value for money and a low total cost of ownership (TCO).
To understand your long-term TCO, you’ll need to take into account things like license fees, hosting costs, maintenance, bespoke development with your agency, and more.
Contentful’s Initial Costs and Ongoing Investment
Contentful has basic and premium pricing plans for businesses, although you can use the platform for free to see if it’s a good fit first.
The basic plan starts at around £250 per month and supports up to twenty users, so it’s only suitable for small businesses. The premium plan is priced based on the resources you’ll use, such as number of users, API requests, and storage. You can usually expect this to start at around £450 per month.
However, as mentioned earlier, most businesses will require a lot of support from an agency to get the platform set up in both the back-end and front-end. You’ll likely need ongoing work from an agency to ensure you can use the platform to its full potential as well, which won’t come cheap.
All these things tend to add up to a high TCO over time, making Contentful less cost-efficient than some of the other CMSs around today.
WordPress’s Low TCO
WordPress is one of those solutions that is far more cost-efficient than Contentful, with a much more reasonable TCO.
Its software is open-source and the platform free to use. This means your initial costs are limited to just hosting, agency fees, and any other support you may need once your site is live. Plugins and extensions of the platform are licensed and paid for separately.
As WordPress is such an intuitive and easy-to-use platform, it’s also affordable to run it and manage it, even if you do use an agency to handle that for you. This includes any bespoke development or customisation requirements you may have, which experienced agencies can often deliver with a very fast time-to-market as well.
Which Platform is Right for You?
Both these CMSs will enable you to build sophisticated, high-performance websites that will support your business goals and allow you to gain an edge over your competition.
As you’ve seen throughout this comparison article, they each have their strengths and weaknesses, as do all the other CMSs available today. That means you need to base your decision on which one is the best fit for your specific business.
For example, a headless CMS, whether that’s Contentful or WordPress, may be too complex in many cases. But if you’re looking to execute a holistic multi-channel marketing strategy, it might be the right choice for you.
In the early stages of your evaluation process, it’s crucial to carefully consider your own unique requirements, objectives, budget, resources, agency relationships, and various other factors.
In order to make the right decision between two CMSs, you need to understand which one will be more suitable to deliver on your needs and expectations, both in the immediate term and for years to come.
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15 May, 2023
What Does Successful User Interface (UI) Design Look like?
As part of our web design series, we recently explained the process we follow when designing the UX of a website. If you’ve not read that already, it will be useful to go and have a look first before reading this article.
A study by Forrester Research has found that a well-designed UI has the potential to increase your website’s conversion rates by up to a 200% while UX design could raise conversion rates by a staggering 400%.
Whether you’re working with a web design and development agency or an independent designer, this process is equally important. Nailing the UI design process is a crucial step towards producing a website that will maximise engagement with your target audience and help you achieve your business goals.
So, let’s take a detailed look at how to run a successful UI design process.
User Interface (UI) Design at a Glance
The UI design process is the creation of the visual design elements of your website. Think about UI as the way in which you convey your brand’s visual identity and bring your UX to life. The UI is there to facilitate the UX.
How Does the UI Design Process Work?
Earlier in the process, we recommend conducting a visual exploration exercise, using mood boards to gain a clear understanding of how your brand will be conveyed and how your website will look and feel.
That visual exploration phase of the project is a pre-cursor to your UI design, as it creates the visual identity of the website, including use of colour, font, blank space, buttons, and more. Some agencies do this as part of the UI phase, but here at SoBold we like to keep it as its own stand-alone phase. You can learn all about the visual exploration phase and how it works here.
After you’ve been through the UX design process, you’ll have approved a set of wireframes, which give you a blueprint of your website’s structure and flow before anything is built properly.
Once you’ve approved those wireframes, then the visual design created with the mood boards will be applied to bring them to life. This is essentially how you create your UI.
Your agency will typically begin with the design of your website’s homepage. Like each phase previously, you can expect this UI design process to be collaborative. Be prepared to have all the stakeholders available to provide feedback to your agency, and work with them to perfect the design when it’s combined with the wireframes.
Once the homepage is approved, your design will then be applied across all the pages of your site. Again, this is an iterative, collaborative process based on feedback and revisions.
Responsive Design Testing
On completion of the desktop designs, your agency partner will work on designing the site across multiple break-points. To ensure your site is responsive across all the most popular devices, the following break-points should be tested as a minimum:
You’ll then reach the exciting part, where your website is fully designed for you to view, test, and play around with. Once you’re happy with the design across the different break-points, your agency partner will be ready to prepare the design for a development handover.
What Does Effective UI Design Involve?
Good UI design is something that should feel seamless and almost invisible to your visitors when they land on your website. The aesthetics and visual style should be simple and engaging, while not distracting from the UX.
These days, you only have a matter of seconds to make a positive impression that can retain your visitors’ attention, so it’s crucial you don’t over-complicate things. But what differentiates good UI from bad UI in practical terms?
Like with UX design, there are some best practices you can follow to ensure your website has an effective, attractive UI.
Follow these guidelines to create a UI that delivers the desired experience for your visitors and supports your website’s strategic objectives:
Check out our related article for seven helpful tips to ensure your website is designed with great usability here for additional guidance.
The Importance of Accessibility
Accessibility is the practice of making technology as easy to use as possible, and fully accessible to everyone. While web accessibility is largely intended to help people with disabilities gain better usage of technology, it’s also much broader than that.
There are people who have difficulty using certain types of, or aspects of, technology who don’t have a disability. For instance, someone with deteriorating eyesight may find it difficult to read small text on a smartphone screen.
It’s also important to ensure your website is as easy to use as possible for the average person as well, because you should always strive to deliver the best possible UX for all your visitors. Accessibility is a key driver of this.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which are used to define what constitutes good accessibility, lists four key principles of web accessibility that should be followed by all websites.
This means your website must be:
Web accessibility is an important topic, so we’ll talk more about that in a separate article. For now, it’s worth noting that any web design and development agency you work with should consider accessibility a top priority when designing the UI of your website. If they don’t, you should challenge them and ask why not.
Here at SoBold, this is built-in to all our design processes. We believe that all technology should be inclusive and equally available to everyone, regardless of their physical ability, location, personal background, or any other factors.
Some design best practices that we’d recommend you always follow to ensure your website is fully accessible, from a UI design perspective, include:
Preparing Your Website for Development
As you can see, UI design is mainly a case of applying the visual design that was created with the mood boards to your UX wireframes with the agreed flow. Good UI is no more than a clean, simple design that accurately represents your brand identity. While it sounds straightforward, it’s important to remember this is just one phase in the holistic, end-to-end process of web design.
To conclude the design process after the UI is complete, your agency will prepare your site’s designs for development. To learn how this process works, understand what to expect, and ensure your own web development process runs smoothly, read our next article in the series here.
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9 February, 2023
Usability Explained – How Better User Experience Can Help You Grow Your Business in 2023
Usability is crucial to the success of any website, but it’s something that most businesses are still struggling to get right. This article explores what’s required to design a website with good usability, highlights common mistakes you should aim to avoid, and provides advice to help you improve the usability of your own site.
Digital Business Success Depends on Good Usability
Almost every business today has a website. At this stage, it’s safe to assume your business falls into that category. In addition, you may have gone beyond an ordinary website and carried out a bespoke development project to create something entirely unique for your business.
In today’s digital business landscape, having a great website is a necessity. And while developing a business website is no easy task in itself, it’s a challenge you’ve almost certainly already worked through. However, a challenge that you may still struggle with – like many other businesses we’ve spoken to recently – is mastering the usability of your site.
Providing a user experience (UX) in line with the standards of today, that meets the demands and expectations of your target audience, is a complex problem that may be holding your business back from achieving certain goals.
Of course, a complex problem is best solved by breaking it down into simple steps. So, let’s start by looking at the issue of usability, and why it’s so important to businesses today.
What is Usability?
According to ISO-9241, usability is defined as “the extent to which a system, product, or service can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use.”
In this case, the product in question will usually be a website. And, while user-centric design is an approach to creating a website that’s easy-to-use, usability is the measurement of how well that design has worked.
Essentially, usability is about making the experience of using your website as convenient, simple, and reliable as possible for all your visitors. This is equally important for all kinds of users, whether they’re prospects you’re hoping to convert to customers, or employees accessing an internal process or system.
In a real-life example, if your business had built an internal site for your employees to access corporate resources and training material, usability would be determined by how easy – or difficult – it is to perform basic tasks. This includes actions like logging in, navigating the site across various pages, consuming the site’s content, inputting information into the system, and resolving errors quickly and efficiently.
We each have experiences with usability hundreds of times every day, as we access websites and apps like LinkedIn, Amazon, Gmail, and so on. But there lies the key
Good usability on a website is something you don’t even notice. Bad usability on a website is something you notice, and will remember the next time you have the option of returning to that site or looking for a better experience elsewhere.
Usability can often be the difference between users adopting or rejecting technology. It could be the difference between your website’s visitors bouncing off the home page or converting to become customers.
Common Mistakes with User Experience (UX)
One of the most common, and damaging, mistakes businesses make is assuming they know how their users will think, behave, and interact with their website.
It’s always a risk to assume your users will respond well to decisions you make because you feel they’ll make things easier for you, from the development or management side of things. You should also try to avoid assuming users will understand certain things just because you do.
Often, the opposite is the case.
For example, certain structure and functionality of website menus may be something you assume your users are comfortable with, but are actually difficult for some people to use. You may assume that your users are happy using a website that has pages that infinitely scroll, when in reality that causes a negative experience for them.
A common mistake we see lots of businesses make is deciding what kind of design and functionality they want, without considering who the target audience is and what they need from their experience.
Remember your users are the ones who will determine the success or failure of your investment in this site, so their perspective is the one that should be taken when making important decisions during the design and development.
By making those assumptions, not only will you provide your users with a more inconvenient or frustrating experience, but you may also drive them to find alternative means of completing their task at hand. If that task is purchasing a product or service, poor usability could begin to have a negative impact on your business.
What Do Users Want in 2023?
People expect a seamless experience when using technology, meaning they want websites to be simple, quick, and convenient.
This involves a lot of components, not just in your design and navigation, but also by finding the right balance with things like passwords, pop-up messages, audio and visual content, push notifications, and more.
Typically, a positive user experience will come from:
Users become frustrated when things are presented to them outside of their control or choosing. For example, some of the most maligned features of websites include push notifications, chat window pop-ups, pop-ups requesting feedback, prompts to install apps, requests for access to their camera or microphone, security questions, and so on.
It’s also likely to create a negative experience by presenting things in a way that doesn’t align with the logic of most of your target audience. For instance, if a website has an unclear structure and navigation, many users will be more likely to leave the site rather than persist in trying to use it.
A Word on Accessibility
Usability is sometimes confused with accessibility. While they are related, they are actually different concepts. Accessibility refers to the practice of making technology accessible and easy-to-use for everyone, equally, with a significant focus on those with disabilities and other difficulties.
Web accessibility is covered under the Equality Act of 2010 in the UK. Many organisations now have a legal – as well as a moral – obligation to ensure their websites are accessible, by following a set of principles and standards known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). If you’re working with an agency, they should already have accessibility best practices included in their approach to design. Be sure to check this anytime you’re evaluating agency partners for a project.
While accessibility and usability are different, all websites should be designed and developed to be accessible to everyone. This will include some of the same conventions mentioned above, as well as ensuring you cater for people with impaired vision and hearing, cognitive difficulties, those that need to use assistive technology, and so on.
Keep an eye out for our upcoming article taking a deep dive into web accessibility.
Tips and Advice for Improved Usability
1 – Keep it Simple
When it comes to UX, the simpler the better. If something is complicated in its design or functionality, it will likely be complicated to use as well. Always try to keep things as simple as possible to give your site the best chance to achieve great usability.
2 – Get the Fundamentals Right
Similar to the issue of making assumptions about your target audience, it’s important to understand that certain aspects of usability are more objective than they are subjective.
Yes, some people may prefer to hover over a drop-down menu rather than click it, but there are some fundamental principles every website needs in order to provide a satisfying UX. Get these right, and your site’s usability will be in good shape:
3 – Learn from Experience
Draw on your own experience in your personal use of the web to put yourself in the shoes of your users. If you encounter a feature or process that gives you a bad UX online, make sure you don’t have similar features or processes within your own site.
4 – Test With Real Users
Test your site with real end-users who are part of your target audience. The best way to give your website great usability is by asking people to test it out, gather their feedback, and put those learnings into practice. This is known as usability testing, and is a phase of the design and development process that should be planned into your timeline at the beginning of any project.
5 – Know When to Ask for Help
To ensure your site is built with usability as a priority, you’ll require the support of a good agency partner. Work with a web development agency who can provide guidance from their experience delivering dozens, if not hundreds, of similar projects successfully in the past. A good agency should also help you with crucial processes like usability testing and user acceptance testing (UAT).
6 – Use the Right CMS
Your selection of content management system (CMS) or platform is another decision that can have a significant influence on the UX your visitors will be given.
Some CMSs have a reputation for being clunky, difficult to use, and slow. Others, such as WordPress, are specifically designed to make websites as easy-to-use as possible for visitors. For example, WordPress is built with plenty of functionality that promotes accessibility for those with difficulties using technology.
For more insight into this issue, we recently produced a series of articles comparing the pros and cons of the leading CMSs available today. You can read that here:
The Benefits and Opportunities of Better Usability
Working hard on your usability to create a great UX is something all businesses should be prioritising in 2023 and beyond.
As technology continues to become more convenient and pervasive, people’s tolerance for slow, unintuitive websites and frustrating functionality is rapidly shrinking.
If you do create a site that provides your users with what they’re looking for and meets their expectations, your business will begin to benefit from a number of outcomes:
2023 Trends and Future Predictions
While users’ preferences for speed and convenience haven’t really changed much over the years, their frustrations with poor UX and their demand for greater usability have increased.
With technology now present in so much of our daily lives, people’s pateince for bad experiences is getting smaller and smaller. When it comes to web design, the best way to manage this is to stick to what’s proven to work and give your users what they want.
The most important usability trend in 2023 may be to focus entirely on those fundamentals we mentioned earlier. Keeping things clear and simple is likely to be the most effective approach to UX design for the majority of businesses right now.
Always Ensure Your End-User is Your Priority
You’d be surprised how many websites fail because they don’t provide their users with a straightforward experience that aligns with their expectations. When you’re investing a significant amount of time, effort, and money into building a site for your business, you can’t afford to overlook the importance of usability.
Whether your target users are prospective customers, existing customers, or your internal workforce, tailoring the UX to that specific audience is absolutely crucial. If you do, not only will your users have a better experience, but your business will also benefit from advantages that will begin to drive increases in business growth.
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9 June, 2023
Craft vs WordPress: Which Platform is the Best Option for Your Business?
When you’re responsible for managing a new website development process, you’ll have some difficult decisions to make. Two of the most difficult decisions will be finding an agency that you can trust, and finding a content management system (CMS) that will give you the flexibility and performance to drive your business forward online.
Your CMS will play a significant role in helping you meet your specific website requirements and enabling you to achieve your strategic goals.
We’ve compared lots of different CMSs in our recent series of articles, and each of them have their own strengths and weaknesses. In this article, we’ll compare WordPress and Craft.
It’s vitally important to ensure that the platform you choose is straightforward to manage. You’ll want a platform that’s approachable, with a low barrier for entry, to avoid any challenges in the daily running of your website.
Whilst Craft is an open-source CMS, it requires technical development expertise in order to manage the platform once built. Management for non-technical teams will likely be difficult, thus limiting you in your ability to build out content and new features over time.
If you do have expertise in-house, that will allow you to manage your website more easily, as the CMS itself is efficient for publishing and managing content.
Craft also makes it easy to collaborate and share responsibilities across teams without any interference or complications. For example, you can save draft versions of pages and share them with colleagues – with private links that don’t even require you to be signed in – before publishing live on your site.
Conversely, WordPress is specifically built so that content can be managed in-house. WordPress provides you with a convenient, intuitive user interface (UI) that allows quick and easy publishing, management, and editing of content on your sites.
Put simply, WordPress is a more traditional CMS that’s suitable for a wider range of users and teams. It allows you to easily manage the content on the front-end, whilst also facilitating a quick time-to-market for the development of your website.
This ease-of-use also helps to share responsibilities throughout your team.
Flexibility will always be high on your list of priorities when looking for a CMS. Tailoring your platform to fit your own unique requirements is a crucial capability in today’s digital business landscape.
How Flexible is Craft?
Craft is all code-based, which allows you to build virtually any type of website you want, with great flexibility. The only limitations, really, will be with the platform-specific development capabilities of your agency.
How Flexible is WordPress?
WordPress also offers a great deal of flexibility and customisation, but the difference here is that it’s unlikely you’ll need to alter much about WordPress’s pre-existing tools and features to be able to build a website you’re happy with.
With WordPress, you have everything you need to build a high-performance website. But that’s complemented by the flexibility to make enhancements and seamlessly scale the platform with new bespoke features if you wish to.
Before you select a CMS, you’ll need to ensure it can easily integrate with any existing systems your business has in place. Whilst most CMSs will be able to integrate well with a variety of third party systems, it’s important to be aware of any limiting capabilities of the platforms.
Integrations with the most popular third-party platforms are typically supported in Craft through plugins. However, you may need to integrate manually with platforms using API’s.
While this gives you more control over your CMS’s functionality and security, it’s another area in which you’ll likely have to spend more time and money on agency development work. Those integrations will also need to be maintained and updated manually as well, which may be a financial and time burden on your agency.
WordPress’s global popularity means that it’s readily compatible with most of the third-party systems you’ll already have within your business.
You’ll have a wide range of native plugins available that will integrate your WordPress site with virtually any other tool. Even if you have more advanced requirements, it’s usually easier for your agency partner to do this bespoke development work in WordPress than it is with other CMSs.
Investing in a platform that’s supported by a community of developers will provide you with additional benefits and advantages. It’s always helpful to have other users working to continuously create additions and updates to help the CMS grow and improve.
Craft has a passionate community working hard to help enhance the platform, but it’s only a fraction of the size when compared to more mainstream CMSs like WordPress.
Still, size isn’t all that counts here. Craft’s community is very supportive and highly active on channels like Slack and Discord. Craft also has a StackExchange, which is a Q&A forum that many developers use to share learnings as they work through projects.
The WordPress Community
At 20 years old now, WordPress’s popularity and global market share means it has an enormous community supporting it.
WordPress’s community consists of millions of users who work tirelessly to offer support, collaboration, knowledge sharing, events, and much more.
Any questions, problems, or requirements you have are often answered very quickly by members of the WordPress community. This also results in exciting new enhancements and features being released on a near-constant basis to drive the platform forward.
Being part of the WordPress community will also give you access to free events that help users learn to get as much value as possible from the platform.
Cost and TCO
Cost is a key factor when choosing a CMS. It’s also important to remember the up-front costs aren’t the only thing you need to consider here. Since your CMS is a long-term investment, you should be looking for a low total cost of ownership (TCO) for all your related costs over time.
Craft’s Initial Investment and Ongoing Costs
With Craft, you’ll need to purchase either the pro or enterprise plan. Pro comes with a one-time payment of £250 per project, and an additional annual payment to continue receiving updates. The cost of the enterprise plan will vary depending on your requirements and usage.
As mentioned earlier, the costs associated with the platform may also be high. This is due to the need for agency support across many aspects of your project, from setting up your website, to integrations, to ongoing maintenance.
The actual costs of development with Craft may also be higher than with other CMSs because of the smaller scale and more specialist nature of the platform.
It’s also worth mentioning that Craft CMS hosting services are more limited than those of WordPress, again likely making them more expensive.
WordPress Cost and TCO
On the most part, WordPress is a more cost-effective platform than Craft, with a lower TCO.
WordPress is free-to-use, limiting your initial costs to just hosting, development agency fees, and post-deployment support.
As touched on earlier, achieving a much faster time-to-market will allow you to launch a quality website quickly so you can begin gaining strong ROI right away.
Another cost-related benefit of WordPress’s ease-of-use is that if there’s bespoke development work you need your agency to complete, it will usually come at a reasonable cost. Because Craft is such a niche and technical platform, bespoke development work often comes at a premium in comparison to the more widely-used WordPress.
When the WordPress platform receives updates, it’s often fairly quick and straightforward for your agency partner to test and maintain your site.
These advantages add up to create a lower TCO for WordPress than you’ll have with other enterprise CMSs.
Both Craft and WordPress are both great CMSs in their own right, and would serve most businesses. Although, it’s difficult to deny that WordPress is a much more approachable platform than Craft for the average user.
If you’re a team with a great selection of existing development skills, Craft can provide you with some innovative capabilities and could be the right platform for you.
The key thing to remember when making this evaluation is that you should select the platform that directly aligns with your own specific circumstances and requirements.
Every business, and every web development project, is different. Carefully consider your objectives, budget, users, in-house skills, and any other factors that may come into play. That should allow you to determine which CMS is the right one to deliver what you need.
If you need more help finding a CMS for your new website project, read our comprehensive guide to understanding and evaluating the options for large businesses here.