User-Experience Is the Key to Great Web Sites

User-experience takes into account the entire web experience that can be provided for web users. It considers the factors of presentation, organization, and interaction, and how each adds to the overall experience users have at the web site.

Three Basic Factors: Presentation, Organization, Interaction

When designing a Web site, we need to consider three basic factors: presentation, organization, and interaction. Presentation is how your site appears to your audience, organization is the structure of your site, and interaction is how your site behaves in response to user actions. Because all interactions between your audience and your structure occur through the site's presentation, it must be understandable and engaging. If the presentation is not clear, your audience might not be able to make it to your content. If the presentation is not engaging your audience might not be motivated to try.

– Luke Wroblewski in "Site-Seeing: A Visual Approach to Web Usability"

Many web professionals have finally figured out that it isn't just the technology, it isn't just the design, it isn't just the content that make a web site great. A focus on one aspect detracts from the others.

Graphic designers will design a web site, but are likely to forget some important interactive or organization principles. Programmers will build a website with bells and whistles, but it may not be very visually appealing, clear, or effective. If any aspect of a web site is lacking, the user's experience will be lacking.

The fact is, web sites are extremely complex and users interact with them on many levels. If the site is ugly or inaccurate, its credibility takes a hit. If it is hard to find information, or loses information sent to it, the web site will frustrate people. If it doesn't do what its users expect and want it to, they may get confused and misled. No organization can afford a web site that doesn't satisfy its users.

Users' Actions Are Directly Related to the Quality of Their Experience at Your Site

Web users generally won't tell the difference between presentation, organization, and interaction. All those factors wrap up into a whole experience that sticks with the user.

Web sites that are informative, easy-to-navigate, attractive, and in general provide a positive experience encourage users to take actions like emailing a friend about the site, learning more, or making a purchase.

Web sites that irritate, frustrate, confuse, and waste a user's time encourage that user to leave the site, complain about it to others, and seek to fulfill their needs at a competitor's site.

Learn More About User-Experience

The field of user-experience is wide and deep. I have barely touched on it here. To learn more, look to these resources: