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Sometimes we receive website briefs where the client refers to the design ideal as the ‘wow factor’. We think that what clients want is for their customers to visit the new website and be dazzled and amazed by how it looks. But, to be honest, ‘wow’ is not a word that we look forward to hearing.

Whilst brand identity and visual impact are extremely important, the ‘wow factor’ is an intangible concept and it isn’t based on evidence. Sometimes it can be offered as arbitrary feedback by high-level stakeholders who dip into the process (much to the frustration of the project owner).

Website design should always have the user at its heart. And what will impress your users most is how your website performs for them. For example, can they find what they need quickly and easily? Can they make a donation or purchase securely?

Ultimately, users are focused more on the task at hand than on the website design. And while stakeholders may want a fresh look and feel because they look at it so often, users often prefer a familiar user interface and usually spend no more than 2-3 minutes on a website.

We believe that you can work towards the wow factor through the following steps:

  • Be clear on your business goals for the website, and design to meet those goals.
  • Understand your users and help them get to where they need to be, quickly.
  • Prioritise accessibility – the site needs to work for everyone, regardless of their situation or the technology they use.
  • Make it easy – ensure that forms and other interactive elements work well, and as users expect.

Website design should be user-centered. Design decisions should be supported by evidence and linked to your business goals. The ‘wow factor’ will be borne out by users completing their journey, responding to your call to action, or making that donation or purchase. Helping your customers have a good experience with your website will definitely provide the ‘wow factor’ you are looking for.