Thoughts on “The psychology of engagement” and the importance of user experience

User experience is so important to those creating content and the delivery device that surrounds it, yet so misunderstood and/or ignored, yet it is all around us.

In everything we read, every website we browse, every shop we wander round and even the mode of transport we got there in there is  an experience, whether we realised it or not, and the fact that a user noticed a journey maybe the clue to whether it’s working or needs some changes.

For news websites, it’s the journey a user takes through the site to their desired piece of content, and the importance of “removing friction from processes to get users to their end goal faster” as Martin Belam puts it, read Martin Belam’s full post: “The psychology of engagement” – Mo Syed at UX People.

What things are called, the size, shape, colour and location all have an effect on user’s interaction with a web page “as humans we make associations between different pieces of information just due to their proximity” as Martin adds. The success of a site’s user experience can be of great value in terms of reaching a site’s objective of highlight new articles or signposting revenue-related content.

Interaction is a key goal for new websites, so knowing the best way to get users to the content they want and inviting them seamlessly to interact and engage are vital. Having an understanding of why users do what they do, aka the psychology of engagement, and how to subtly guide them around a site should be a key part of any ongoing strategy, leading you in to other areas like usability studies and information architecture.

As Irene Pereyra says in her .netmagazine post ’10 steps to an engaging interactive user experience’: “1. Design for the user, really”, it’s easy to forget you’re publishing and broadcasting for the benefit of others not yourselves and your own personal enjoyment. A bit of homework on your audience and some user experience best practices in your design can make a huge difference to your traffic and level of engagement.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of the subject and am by no means an expert, but here are some related articles:
The UX of Learning – alistapart.com
How Long Do Users Stay on Web Pages?  – Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox
Business Objectives vs. User Experience – smashingmagazine.com
A Web Designers Guide to Information Architecture – inspiredm.com
What is ‘Information Architecture’? by Martin Belam at guardian.co.uk
More advanced thinking: Subliminal User Experience – 24ways.org
‘User experience design’ as defined on Wikipedia

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