In a recent article, we explored the topic of scalability, specifically how much scalability the WordPress platform offers. In this case, scalability refers to how WordPress allows you to expand and grow your website with more content, capabilities, features, and functionality.
Scalability is a key influence on whether your investment in your content management system (CMS) of choice will be successful, whether that’s WordPress, Drupal, Sitecore, or any other platform.
When long-term, sustainable business growth is a top priority for your business, you need total confidence that your website can scale to support that growth as your requirements evolve.
WordPress is renowned for its scalability, as it allows you to easily create new features and functionality at will, without the need to invest further time and resources into more development work.
If you do select WordPress as the CMS to build your website, and are able to leverage its industry-leading scalability, this will provide you with a range of benefits and advantages.
1 – Efficiency and Ease-of-Use
With WordPress, it’s extremely quick and efficient to build your website and subsequently add a high volume of new content whenever you need to, without losing any accuracy or quality.
Whether it’s your team or your agency partner managing your site, WordPress is convenient and easy-to-use.
This ease-of-use also applies when it comes to building bespoke features and functionality, so you can keep adding new capabilities as your requirements become more advanced.
2 – Flexibility and Creativity
The WordPress platform is built on the most popular development language in the world, PHP. This language is currently used by more than three quarters (77.5%) of all websites with a known server-side programming language.
This provides tremendous opportunity for creativity, as you and your agency partner can build virtually anything your site needs and integrate it with the platform. That gives WordPress a significant advantage over CMSs built on other less popular development languages.
WordPress also comes with a vast range of plugins which add new functionality, or enhance existing functionality, for your site. Plugins are an essential aspect of WordPress development, because it’s simply not practical or cost-effective to build absolutely everything bespoke.
However, it’s important to note there are some potential drawbacks with plugins that we’ve detailed in a related article, which you can read here.
Ultimately, the support of a trusted agency partner will help you ensure your use of plugins is well advised and risk-free..
3 – Low TCO
This dynamic scalability and great ease-of-use mean that you can use WordPress with a much lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than most other CMS options.
Working with a platform as intuitive and agile as WordPress will prevent you from having to pay for costly extra work to build out new features and functionality for your site.
When you have a new requirement, you can simply use a quality plugin or ask your agency partner to create something bespoke. Both approaches will be quick and cost-effective.
Either way, when compared to other platforms, WordPress delivers unprecedented value for money. This provides you with more budget available to reinvest in improving your site with further innovations.
4 – Fast Time-to-Market
Similar to the above point, WordPress allows you to achieve a much faster time-to-market with your site than most other platforms when developing new sites, features, or capabilities.
From a long-term perspective, as your business grows and new requirements emerge, WordPress can continue to quickly expand and grow easily with useful new features.
This allows you to execute on tactical and strategic requirements as quickly as possible, keeping up with user demands and market trends.
5 – Competitive Differentiation
The aforementioned advantages WordPress has over other CMSs allow you to create innovative bespoke features for your site at scale, at speed, and within a reasonable budget.
This naturally begins to help you gain a competitive edge over your competitors. A high-performance web presence that is dynamic enough to scale with speed and efficiency is a point of differentiation in today’s fast-moving digital business landscape.
Platform Selection is a Key Decision
Scalability should always be an important part of your criteria when selecting a CMS to build your website. WordPress’s scalability, and the resulting advantages discussed in this article, make it one of the best platforms available today.
When you also consider that some of the world’s biggest businesses have websites built on WordPress, that argument becomes even more easy to get behind.
If you’d like to learn more about how some of the world’s leading businesses use the WordPress platform at scale, read our related article here. We also provide useful tips and advice to make creating sophisticated new features and functionality easy for you.
Of course, building, managing, and scaling a high-performance website is a complex challenge. As with any CMS, it’s crucial to find the support and guidance of an experienced agency partner to ensure you’re leveraging the platform to its full potential.
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- Bespoke development.
- Does it have a large number of positive reviews?
- Is it built by an author with a good reputation?
- How active and trusted is the author in the WordPress community?
- When was the last date the plugin was updated?
- Has it been updated regularly enough in the past?
- Does the code quality meet our standards?
- Does the code align with modern WordPress development best practices?
- Is the plugin compatible with the WordPress block editor?
- Your target audience now has a shorter attention span, and less patience when browsing websites and services online.
- Your target audience also has more choice of options than ever before when choosing who to buy from.
- Boost SEO and brand awareness
- Improve audience engagement
- Reduce bounce rates
- Increase conversions
- Drive more sales through your website
- Accelerate business growth
- Improve customer retention and loyalty
- Gain competitive advantages.
21 June, 2023
How to Determine When to Use WordPress Plugins and When to Use Bespoke Development
When developing a high-performance website with WordPress, certain requirements will demand that your agency partner goes beyond the “out-the-box” functionality of the platform.
There are two main ways your agency partner may work with you to build out custom functionality:
While plugins are the go-to option for many small and medium-sized businesses, it shouldn’t always be such a quick decision between those two options. If you’re working on an enterprise-grade website, your agency should always give careful consideration when determining the best approach in every scenario.
In this article, we’ll help you understand how to determine the right option between plugins and bespoke development for your own WordPress website.
Why Are WordPress Plugins so Popular?
Since WordPress is an open-source platform with a very active global community of web developers, there are tens of thousands of plugins readily available. For almost any use case you can think of, there’s almost certainly a plugin for it; probably even several.
Plugins serve so many businesses so well because they’re pre-built functionality that quite literally plugs into your platform.
One of the main reasons plugins are so popular, especially for smaller businesses, is because they’re usually free. This provides a great cost benefit over bespoke development, on top of the obvious benefits in the speed of attaining the new functionality as well.
Why You Should be Careful with Plugins
Despite their popularity, there are downsides to plugins too.
Relying on too many plugins, or using low quality plugins, may slow the speed of your site down significantly. A good WordPress development agency will try to keep the use of plugins at a minimum to ensure the speed and performance of your site isn’t compromised.
Poorly built plugins, or ones that aren’t maintained sufficiently, could also cause glitches and errors to occur with the functionality they’re adding to your site.
Security is another concern with certain plugins. If a plugin isn’t maintained and updated regularly, this will create vulnerabilities in your platform that could be exploited by malware or cyber security attacks. These vulnerabilities could also creep in if your plugins are auto-updated and left untested by your agency partner.
Some less experienced agencies often fall into the trap of using too many plugins, while others are simply unaware of the risks associated with plugins from untrusted sources. This has given a bad impression of plugins in some circles. The missing ingredient there, however, isn’t the value of plugins, it’s the agency’s best practices.
When to Use WordPress Plugins
If there’s a feature you need to add to your site that’s already been built perfectly in a trustworthy plugin, it’s worth considering that approach instead of building something from scratch.
However, here at SoBold, we ensure a strict set of best practices are followed, and due diligence conducted, every time we’re considering using a plugin.
We’ll always make thorough checks to ensure any plugin we use is best-in-class, aligned with our high-performance standards, and so should any other agency you work with.
This will include asking questions like:
Before implementing a plugin on your platform, your agency should also use it in a local testing environment to ensure it functions as expected.
The majority of plugins are reliable, offering a quicker and easier approach than building something bespoke. However, there are many cases where bespoke development is the more suitable option.
When it’s Better to Use Bespoke Development
When it comes to sophisticated, dynamic websites, plugins may not be capable of delivering the required level of performance, security compliance, or functionality.
In these cases, your agency will turn to bespoke development to deliver what you need. This is often the necessary approach, because high-performance websites do require some complexity behind the scenes. And WordPress is arguably the best platform available today for bespoke web development.
Building out your platform by creating new features completely from scratch, tailored to your exact need, brings with it a wealth of advantages over using plugins.
This is particularly beneficial in terms of flexibility and customisation, giving you something entirely unique to your website. You’ll have complete control and ownership of your bespoke features, which provides greater security and seamless integrations with the rest of your technology systems.
Performance will almost always be superior with bespoke development, delivering a far greater user experience (UX) and improving your customer engagement as a result.
Bespoke development could even be more cost-effective in the long-run too, when compared to plugins that turn out to be problematic or aren’t updated past a certain point.
Rely on Your Agency’s Expertise
Determining whether to use a plugin or build something bespoke will be a decision your agency should guide you to make correctly.
Each website and each business are different, so the right option will be unique to your own requirements and circumstances. Therefore, it’s also worth mentioning that this must be specific to each individual requirement as well, rather than taking a blanket approach.
The decision shouldl be based on the most straightforward way to give you the capability you’re looking for. It will also involve ensuring that your site’s security, performance, and UX are maintained. Another important factor to consider are your circumstances, such as your budget, timeframes, the amount of traffic your website is likely to encounter, and so on.
For example, if your agency knows that one of your top priorities for your website is excellent performance, they’ll make different decisions in that case than they would if you were more concerned with the fastest possible time-to-market.
Some businesses even use plugins in the first phase of their website, then look to rebuild their plugin-based functionality with bespoke development when their business grows, or when they have more time and resources available.
It’s important to trust your agency partner with this decision and rely on their advice. This is why it’s so valuable to work with an experienced agency who understands your needs, so they can help you make the right choices and take the best possible option.
Finding the Right Balance for Your Website
Plugins can be very useful, and it must be said that many WordPress plugins are outstanding in their capability and quality. However, if your specific requirements demand more than a plugin can deliver, bespoke development will be the correct approach.
Regardless, it’s crucial to find the right balance to ensure your site’s performance, speed, and security are maintained.
Ultimately, your agency partner should always consider the specific requirements and circumstances of your project before deciding whether to use plugins or build bespoke functionality for your site. This makes it even more important to work with an experienced agency you can trust to guide you.
Discover more about the scalability and flexibility of the WordPress platform, and its ability to deliver complex requirements for enterprise websites, in our related article here: Just How Scalable is WordPress?
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1 November, 2022
SoBold announce Cyber Essentials certification
SoBold announce their Cyber Essentials certification for the third consecutive year which demononstrates their commitment to delivering secure technical solutions to their new and existing clients.
Cyber Essentials is scheme which helps guard your organisation against a range of common cyber threats. SoBold’s resilience across a range of internet facing devices was tested and approved, ensuring there were not any major critical vulnerabilities discovered
SoBold Technical Director, Sam Phillips said:
With an ever growing cyber threat, Cyber Essentials certification is becoming more and more important to maintain. Protecting both our clients data and websites is of the upmost importance and successfully passing the more thorough Cyber Essentials guidelines new for 2022 shows our commitment to this.
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28 February, 2023
Seven Simple but Effective Tips to Improve the Usability of Your Website
Providing your website’s visitors with a great user experience (UX) is a challenge. Especially for corporate websites that require sophisticated features and functionality, this can be an ongoing struggle. But it’s a challenge you need to solve if you want to stay relevant and remain competitive in today’s digital business landscape.
Usability is the measurement of how easy or difficult your website is to use for your audience. Good usability makes the experience of using your website as convenient and simple as possible for all your site’s visitors.
Despite the obvious value of this, usability is often neglected by businesses when building a website. That could be because you don’t have the time or budget to follow best practices, you don’t have the in-house design expertise, or you simply aren’t aware of just how important usability is today. Whatever the reason, you can’t afford to take the risk of releasing a site with a poor UX.
Understanding the Importance of Web Usability
You’d be amazed by how many websites these days fail to give their users an experience that delivers on their basic expectations. If your website falls in that category, poor usability may have an influence on whether your users adopt or reject your site. This could be the difference between a visitor abandoning a poorly designed page or sticking around and converting to become a customer.
So, how do you ensure your website doesn’t end up on this ever-growing list of failures?
The key is to focus on your users’ needs, and put yourself in their shoes when planning, designing, and developing your site.
Even if your site isn’t customer-facing, good usability is also crucial for internal systems. Employees are users too, and their adoption – or rejection – of your technology will also have an impact on your business.
This is easier said than done, we know. That’s why we’ve provided a selection of tips and advice to help you overcome this challenge.
How to Improve the Usability of Your Website
1 – Keep it Simple
Whenever you’re thinking about UX, always follow the rule that simplicity is best. If a website has a design or functionality that’s complicated, its usability will suffer. Try to keep things as simple as possible at all times.
2 – Nail the Fundamentals
While some design choices, like colour and font, can be argued as subjective, there are certain aspects of usability that are more objective. Getting the fundamentals right will help you ensure you’re delivering great usability.
For example, optimising your site to ensure its pages load quickly, organising your pages with proper headings and sub-headings, making sure clickable buttons and links stand out, avoiding making any text or touch-points too small, even providing clear, useful error messages, and so on.
3 – Adhere to Accessibility Guidelines
Usability shouldn’t be confused with accessibility. Accessibility’s purpose is to make all technology accessible and easy-to-use for everyone, equally, with a significant focus on those with disabilities and other difficulties.
To ensure your website meets the current requirements for accessibility, you need to follow a set of principles and standards known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), linked here.
If you’re working with an agency, they should have best practices for accessibility already incorporated into their approach. Make sure you check this anytime you’re evaluating agency partners for a website project.
4 – Learn from Experience
We’re all users of websites, and we all know how it feels to encounter a frustrating UX. Use your own experience of this to try and build empathy for your users and what they might like and dislike. Any time you come across a website that gives you a bad experience online, make note of this and ensure you don’t allow similar problems to creep into your own site.
5 – Don’t Make Assumptions
While the previous point is important, it’s also crucial to realise it’s not enough. Using your own experience will only get you so far and, in some cases, it could even cause additional problems.
Remember that usability is dependent on delivering for your target audience’ personal preferences when interacting with your website. It’s always risky to assume you know how your users think and feel.
Don’t make decisions about design and functionality without considering who the target users are and what they need from their experience. This leads us nicely into the next point.
6 – Test With Real Users
It’s always necessary to test the usability of your site with real people who are part of your target audience. The best way to ensure your website will provide a great UX is by asking real-life users to test it out, collect their input, and put that feedback into the final version. This is known as usability testing, which is a phase of the design and development process that every successful project requires.
7 – Know When to Ask for Help
All of these tips are helpful to be aware of, but for the average business they can be daunting and difficult to put into practice. That’s why the majority of large businesses with outstanding websites have worked alongside a specialist agency partner with expertise in user-centric design. To ensure your site has great usability, it’s often necessary to find the support of an agency who has proven experience delivering similar projects successfully.
Usability Should be a Priority
Usability is crucial to the success of any website, but it’s something most businesses are still struggling to get right. Ultimately, though, your users are the ones who will determine the success or failure of your investment.
You have to put yourself in their perspective when designing and developing your site, and that includes getting real people’s feedback and approval. Only then will you create something that meets your target audience’s expectations for speed, convenience, and simplicity.
If your website provides a clunky or frustrating UX, most users today won’t hesitate to go elsewhere rather than waiting around to complete their task on your site. If that task in question is purchasing a product or service, you’ll see that poor usability will eventually begin to have a negative impact on your business.
Following the tips and best practices listed in this article will help you avoid that trap and create a UX that’s better than most websites. Doing that will begin to drive positive outcomes like greater adoption rates, improved customer retention and loyalty, and a stronger return on investment.
To continue learning with a deeper dive into the topic of web usability, including more insight into its principles, additional guidance on design best practices, and current trends and future predictions, read our related article here.
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10 July, 2023
Headless CMS Explained: Understanding Whether Headless is the Right Approach for Your Website
Making the best possible choice of content management system (CMS) is crucial for the success of your website. But, these days, not only do you have to navigate the many different options – from WordPress to Sitecore to Webflow – you also have the added challenge of deciding whether to go “headless” or not.
Whether to take the less conventional headless approach with your CMS is a decision that could cause some confusion. It could even cause some challenges with your website if you end up making the wrong choice.
In this article, we’ll help you understand exactly what a headless CMS is, when you may need to take that approach, and highlight some key considerations to make before finalising your choice.
What is a Headless CMS?
With a traditional CMS, the back-end and the front-end of the system are directly linked. This is how you use your CMS for both the content management (back-end) and to control how the content is presented to your website visitors (front-end).
In this context, the back-end of the CMS is sometimes referred to as the “body” and the “head” is the front-end. In a headless CMS, that front-end is decoupled from the back-end of the system, hence the term headless. With this approach, you use the back-end as normal for content management and the presentation of content in the front-end is handled completely separately.
This is valuable because it allows you to design your website front-end however you like, without any restrictions. However, it also requires more technical work from your development agency as a trade-off.
With a headless CMS, your content is presented to your audience on your live website by using APIs that take it from the back-end of the CMS. This use of APIs also allows you to publish the same content in a variety of different formats via different channels as well, but more on that later.
Scenarios in Which You Might Need a Headless CMS
It’s important to understand that you should only take a headless approach if it’s the most suitable way to meet a specific set of requirements or objectives.
Some scenarios in which you might need to take a closer look at adopting a headless CMS include:
If a large volume of content is a key component of your marketing strategy.
If you’re going to be producing and publishing a lot of content on your website, you may benefit from a headless CMS. Many people find it easier and more intuitive managing websites in the back-end of a headless CMS.
The decoupling of the front-end also means that your development agency will be the ones responsible for ensuring your audience is presented with dynamic, engaging content.
If you expect to have high volumes of traffic and need to maintain performance.
If the size of your website’s audience will put a heavy demand on your CMS’s performance, a headless system could be a worthwhile investment. Using APIs, and leveraging other intelligent techniques, the headless approach often delivers faster loading times, reduces the workload on your servers, and offers greater scalability.
If you have a multi-channel marketing strategy, or need to publish content across multiple digital touch-points.
The headless approach allows you to take one piece of content, upload it into the back-end, and seamlessly publish it across several channels, including website, mobile app, social media, email, and even internet-of-things (IoT) devices.
This can help you maximise consistency, while providing your users in each channel an experience optimised for their preferred context.
If you’re prioritising personalisation.
As personalisation is becoming much more important in modern marketing, headless CMSs are becoming more popular in enabling those tactics.
If you need to create personalised experiences for your website visitors based on their demographic data, past behaviour, preferences, and so on, a headless CMS may be the right option. This is a useful approach for delivering tailored content to individual visitors, improving your engagement and increasing conversions.
If you have a multi-lingual or multi-regional website.
Delivering the same content to visitors in different languages, across different locations, can also be made easier by using a headless CMS. Your localisation process can be streamlined by managing the content for all users just once in the back-end, then delivering it seamlessly in its different forms based on location or other conditions.
Key Considerations and Potential Pitfalls
While a headless CMS can be a great choice to deliver on the requirements discussed here, it’s still not a straightforward decision in these scenarios.
Firstly, it’s important to note that a traditional CMS like WordPress can still help you achieve all the things listed above, especially with the support of an experienced, talented agency. Secondly, there are some downsides to the headless approach that need to be considered while you’re evaluating your options.
Security is an issue that needs careful consideration when looking into the headless approach. The headless architecture, and use of APIs, create more security vulnerabilities than you’d have with a traditional CMS.
It’s also common for a headless CMS to require more hands-on management in key areas such as hosting and compliance, as well as more thorough and frequent testing.
When you ask your development agency to build, manage, and maintain your website using a headless CMS, you’re asking them for more complex work than they’d be facing with a traditional system. This complexity is something you need to be aware of, both in your selection of an agency capable of delivering your requirements, and in the additional workload you’re asking them to complete for you.
Following on from the previous point, more complex development work often results in a longer time-to-market for your website.
Developing a website using a headless CMS may require more time and resources from your agency to deliver the work for you. If you need to get your site up and running quickly, or if you may require future development work to be delivered quickly, a regular CMS may be a safer bet.
Publishing content with a headless CMS may be easy, but if something goes wrong, or you need something changed, you’re unlikely to be able to do it yourself. A headless CMS requires more technical skills and development experience to maintain than a traditional CMS, even for small tasks. If you don’t have these skills in your team, you’ll be more reliant on your agency partner than you would be with a normal CMS.
Total Cost of Ownership
All the points listed here will add up to a higher total cost of ownership (TCO). When accounting for the higher volume and greater complexity of work you’ll require from your agency, you’re likely to spend a lot more of your budget on a headless CMS.
Unless you have specific complex requirements that demand the use of a headless CMS, it’s usually the more cost-efficient option to go with the more traditional approach.
With all that said, it’s also important to consider whether a headless CMS is even necessary based on your content strategy.
Unless you have an intricate, wide-ranging content strategy that spans various channels and platforms, it might not be worth adopting a headless CMS at all.
Most of the requirements you have can likely be delivered by working with a reliable agency partner using a sophisticated, flexible CMS like WordPress.
It’s also important to note that WordPress can be used in a headless context as well. This offers you a balance between a familiar, easy-to-use system and a more dynamic UX for your visitors in the front-end.
The Benefits of a Headless CMS
If you do decide to take a headless approach, your CMS can deliver a wealth of benefits and strategic advantages. These include:
The headless architecture will enable you to build out your digital presence rapidly, on a large scale, across multiple channels. This scalability will be crucial for your website as your business grows and your requirements evolve.
Both the back-end of your headless CMS and the front-end presentation of your content are entirely customisable, tailored to your specific requirements.
Headless CMSs provide a great deal of flexibility in terms of your selection of technology, content creation, and implementation of a multi-channel market strategy.
If you work with a skilled agency partner who can set up and manage your system for you, publishing and editing content with a headless CMS becomes quick, easy, and efficient.
Delivering your content seamlessly – and consistently – across a wide range of channels and digital touch-points creates a far greater UX for your target audience.
The headless architecture removes the need to render pages on your server. This creates the faster loading times and improved performance discussed previously, which also contributes to a better experience for your visitors.
As mentioned earlier, the headless approach allows you to create a truly unique UX. In an increasingly crowded, noisy online landscape, this can help you differentiate your website and stand above your competitors.
A headless CMS allows you to easily change or upgrade the technology you use for your front-end without having any impact on your back-end. This will help you become more agile and adapt quickly as new technology trends emerge in future.
Making the Right Decision for Your Unique Requirements
Ultimately, you should base your decision here on the specific requirements you have for your website and the circumstances you find yourself in.
While a headless CMS does offer a range of innovative capabilities, the additional costs and resources you’ll need to invest may not be worthwhile. For example, the traditional use of WordPress can provide you with most of the benefits discussed earlier.
Carefully consider your objectives, your strategy, and the resources you have available. Use those to weigh up all the pros and cons listed in this article in relation to your own website project.
The key thing is to clearly understand exactly what you need from your CMS, and use that to select the option that aligns best with your requirements.
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15 May, 2023
Demystifying User Experience (UX) Design
As technology continues to evolve and advance rapidly, more of our daily lives are taking place in a digital-first context. When marketing your products and services, this means:
Modern users demand the same speed and convenience they get from the industry-leading sites and apps they use every day. That means you only have a matter of seconds to make a positive, memorable connection with your visitors.
UX design, therefore, serves as a critical phase within the end-to-end process of web design. This is essentially the practice of creating a website that allows your visitors to complete a process, take an action, or fulfill their need in as few steps or clicks as possible.
Despite its ever-increasing importance, UX design is a process that many businesses, and even many agencies, still struggle to get right.
To ease this challenge, and help you ensure your own website’s UX is designed effectively, we’ve written this article to outline the process in detail. We’ll also provide advice and tips to help you ensure your website can provide your target audience with an experience that drives them towards your desired outcomes.
What is UX Design?
The aim of UX design is to make it quick, easy, and convenient for your visitors to complete a task or process, or follow a call-to-action. Your UX involves everything from functionality, navigation, accessibility, layout, structure, and even the site’s content itself.
Designing your website in a way that’s intuitive and easy-to-use will provide your visitors with a satisfying UX. It’s important to note here that UX design shouldn’t be confused or bundled up with user interface (UI) design. UI design is its own separate phase of the process that comes slightly later.
Understanding the Design Process as a Whole
Research and Planning
Earlier in the overall design process, before you approach the UX, you should’ve gone through a thorough research and planning phase with your design agency.
This is important in ensuring that every decision you make towards your UX and UI will produce a more effective website capable of meeting your business goals and your audience’s needs.
Working alongside your agency, you’ll use this research to define the full scope of your website and all its requirements. This will include the creation of user personas and user journeys. These will help you determine the most simple and efficient flow for your visitors to take through your website to each call-to-action, and this is how your UX is created.
This research will guide both your UX design and UI design processes.
Your agency partner should then produce a set of mood boards that you’ll use to create the aesthetic style of your site in line with your brand. These mood boards help you visualise the way your website will look and feel when built.
This is a precursor to your UI design, and it’s done before the UX phase to ensure the overall style is correct before any more design work is completed.
This is another collaborative process, where your agency should advise you with their expertise and experience from delivering successful website projects in the past.
Related reading: What is Visual Exploration in the Process of Web Design?
The UX Process
The information architecture of your website is devised by building a sitemap, which is a map of all the necessary pages across your entire website. You’ll likely have an existing one from your current site, but this will probably need updating based on all the new research and strategic planning you’ve done.
From the sitemap, you’ll have a list of all the pages and content required to populate your site. Your agency will then build out a content base framework, noting any content that you need support in developing.
The users’ navigation through the site needs to be tailored to the objectives you’ve set and the research findings from earlier. It also needs to be built in a way that allows for flexibility and scalability later, as your requirements evolve and your business grows.
Wireframes are used to design the user experience of your website. This is essentially like creating a blueprint of your website’s pages prior to beginning the actual design work, detailing the site’s flow and the users’ journey through it.
These wireframes are used to determine how the user can reach their desired outcome, or reach your desired call-to-action, in as few clicks or steps as possible. Remember, the purpose of UX design is to optimise that journey.
Here at SoBold, we use high-fidelity wireframes that provide a clear, detailed representation of the users’ flow to all calls-to-action. This is directed and influenced by the things we learned in the research and planning phase.
These wireframes are typically built on a standard desktop size, but they can be done on a mobile device screen size if you want your site to be designed mobile-first.
Wireframes are used to create the UX so you don’t get distracted by the visual design when evaluating the user journeys. This allows you to focus completely on the flow and the experience the user will have when visiting your site, without worrying about the aesthetic elements. It proves to be a much more effective approach towards creating an experience that will satisfy your visitors and help you achieve your objectives.
Again, this will be a collaborative process in which you’ll work closely with your agency, providing feedback on the wireframes to ensure they align with your requirements.
Once the mood boards and the wireframes are approved, all that’s left to do is apply the design to the wireframes to bring your website’s design to life. This makes the UI design process very quick and easy from here.
A Quick Word on Accessibility
Accessibility is a crucial aspect of any user experience.
Accessibility refers to how easy and accessible technology is for all users, regardless of their physical ability, location, personal background, or any other factors. While accessibility is primarily a concern for the UI design team, it’s also important in optimising your UX as well. After all, a website that isn’t accessible simply cannot be considered to have a good UX.
If accessibility isn’t included as a core component of your web design process, you should raise this as a concern with your agency.
Here at SoBold, accessibility is a key part of all our design processes, as we believe that all technology must be fully inclusive and equally available to everyone.
Related reading: You can learn all about what it takes to deliver good usability through your website in our related article here.
Finding the Optimum Balance
As touched on earlier, your target audience will be visiting your site with a goal in mind, and the UX is what enables them to achieve that easily.
Of course, you also have business objectives to achieve through your website, which must also be supported by UX design. That creates the need for balance between a UX that serves your visitors and supports your business strategy simultaneously. Your design should also play the important role of directing visitors to the calls-to-action that you want them to engage with.
Finding this balance is a challenge, and one that could have a negative impact if you get it wrong. This is where the guidance and expertise of a specialist agency partner becomes so important. All design is collaborative and iterative, and UX design is all about compromising to find the right balance.
The Business Benefits of Great UX
Finding a design agency you can trust, and investing the time to work with them to craft a truly outstanding user experience, will prove well worth it in the long-run.
UX design is complex, but the right agency can guide you by demystifying the process and helping you make the right decisions at every step. Finding that aforementioned balance between your strategic objectives and your target audience’s best interests can have a transformational impact on the performance of your website.
Providing your visitors with a great UX can deliver a wealth of other benefits as well, not only to the performance of your website but to your wider business too. For instance, a study by
Some of these additional benefits include:
Your UX isn’t Complete Without User Interface Design
The key thing to remember is that good UX design is really just helping your website visitors travel from their entry point to wherever they need to get to as easily and efficiently as possible.
In the UX phase of your project, you need to consider who the user is, what they’re aiming to do, and then determine how to enable them to do that with an intuitive design.
Once your UX design begins to come together, and you’re satisfied with everything, the next step will be for your agency partner to begin to design your user interface.
While UX and UI are separate, they’re also intrinsically linked. They need to work together seamlessly and complement each other in order for your website to be successful.
If you’d like to take a step back and learn more about the overall process of web design, read our related article here.