Three Fundamental Rules Of Web Design That Get You Clicks
It is no-brainer to realize that utility and usability rank higher than visual design when it comes to determining your
It is no-brainer to realize that utility and usability rank higher than visual design when it comes to determining your website's success or failure.
The norm today has become to create user-centric design
in order to attract users and make them stay. After all, what's the point of having a feature if your users cannot use it?
There are certain fundamental rules, approaches and heuristics that you should know for creating for effective web design. If used properly, these approaches can help you take more sophisticated design decisions and at the same time simplify the process of presenting information. But to do that we need to see things from users' perspective, how they interact with websites and what are the basic users' behavior patterns.
Rule #1. Understanding Users: What are They Thinking?
If you notice closely, users on Web behave similarly as customers in a store. They glance at your pages, scan through the text, and click on links that they find promising or catch their fancy. But if the new page fails to meet their expectations, users won't think twice to hit the "Back" button and continue with their search process. In worst scenarios, they would leave and continue their search process in some other site. In short, they skip the major part of your web page.
Users Value Quality and Credibility
These are two basic characteristics of a website that are highly appreciated by users. While it is true that poor design and too much advertisements are big turn offs for online users they are ready to compromise, provided you can present them high-quality content. This is the reason why many ‘not-so-well-designed web-sites' that have high-quality content get to the top of Google and gain a lot of traffic. So if you have hired the services of a Web Design company, make sure the design they have created supports the content and not otherwise.
Users Scan Information
As mention, users don't read your text; they scan. Your users simply analyse your web page by searching some anchor texts or fixed points that would take them through your page's content. Using heatmaps you can understand and evaluate how users read your content. According to a study by Nielsen Norman Group, online users "read textual content in an F-shaped pattern."
Users are Impatient
With the plethora of options available, web users are the most impatient people on earth. Worst still, they insist on instant gratification. This means that if you fail to meet their expectations, they will simply leave your website and look for other alternatives. High cognitive load and low intuitive navigation are big design failure that will cost you both web traffic and money.
Users Don't Care
Users basically follow their intuition and don't care about reading the information provided by a designer. According to Steve Krug, an information architect and user experience professional, users stick to what "they" find easy to use. As long as they can use your site and its features conveniently, they will stick to it. And it doesn't matter if they understand how things work or not.
Users Need Control
Users need to control their browser. They usually bank on the steady flow of data presentation without any disturbance throughout the site. New windows popping up suddenly is annoying and a big drawback. Links opening in new browser windows therefore is one practice you should stop immediately. Similarly, allow them to go back to the place they were before with a "Back" button.
Users Select the First Reasonable Option
Instead of making optimal choices or finding the information in the quickest way possible, users generally settle for the first reasonable option. They don't scan web-pages in linear fashion. The moment they find a link that looks promising and is likely to lead to the goal, they will click it almost immediately.
So if you have been busy optimizing your site for visitors to click, remember that satisficing (your users) is more efficient and effective.
Rule #2. Focus on Feature Exposure
Modern web designs often practice the approach of guiding users with 1-2-3-done-steps, which are visually appealing. They use large buttons and visual effects to attract users' attention. Although designers are often criticize for such features, they aren't a bad thing from the design perspective. In fact, such visually appealing 1-2-3-done guidelines are extremely effective to take your visitors through your website content.
You can use these simple and user-friendly features to provide a clear site structure. Make sure all your navigation options are visible to users at the first glance and your choice of colors must be appealing too. One good designing practice is to use harmonious color themes with lesser colors so that your visitors can focus on context. If using contrasting colors, be careful with them and use them to differentiate between your context and the background.
Remember that your goal is to let users see the available functions clearly. This is one of the basic fundamental principle of proper user interface design. How you achieve it is up to you, but make sure the content is well-understood and your users are comfortable in interacting with the system.
Rule #3. Keep It Simple Silly
Anything that's too complex tend to confuse us. From gadgets to website and apps, users prefer something that is simple to use and this "keep it simple" approach also applies to your website designs. Users don't come to your site to relish the design.
While they do appreciate good, user-friendly designs that are also aesthetically appealing, the main goal is to get the information or product/service they are looking for. Striving for simplicity when it comes to your website designing is scientifically better too.
Create a simple and clear design so that users can easily navigate the site. The header, footer and content area must be easily recognizable. The menus must be readable and easy to navigate; same applies for sub-menus and all other links. If you are using icons, make sure they can communicate the information clearly without confusing the users.
Speaking from users' perspective, pure text minus advertisements or any other content blocks is the best site design policy. As a reader, I would rather read a blog post that presents all its information in a single page (list, sub-heads and bullets are must use) than clicking the "Next" button of a slide for more information.
You should therefore try to create a user-friendly print-version of your web pages for good user experience. Of course, you should also give users a choice of options but just don't overcrowd the page with unnecessary content. And that's the kind of designs users prefer and click.
Michael Georgiou is a dynamic business professional and entrepreneurial guru associated with Imaginovation - Raleigh Web Design company proven his success in creative strategy, online branding, project management, and communication projects in both the public and private sectors.
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