It is a known fact that the utility and the usability are the primary factors responsible for the success of a website. It is important for any website, especially e-commerce portals, to have a user-centric design, and this has now become the customary approach to make it successful and profit-oriented. At the end of the day, you want a website with usable features.
Newbie web designers will be able to do a much better job if they understand the user’s psyche with respect to how they use websites – the factors that motive them to visit a website, click on a link, or close the browser, it’s all about the catering to the user’s needs.
Comprehending User Behavior on Websites
- Typically, when users visit a website, they seldom read through the content minutely. At times, there are large portions of the page that may go unnoticed. However, they do browse through the pages, skim through the text, and click on the links they find interesting or useful.
- If the users feel that they’ve been meandering through a website or a page aimlessly and that their expectations aren’t going to be met, they will either stop navigating through it or click the ‘Back’ button and continue searching for something that may enthuse them.
- It is said that content is king. Website which may have ordinary designs, but are supported with high-quality content tend to attract more traffic over time. This goes to show that users appreciate quality and credibility.
- Users love websites that spare them the cognitive load, and are based on intuitive navigation. They’re more likely to stick around/return to your website, if they can easily understand how things work and how they can use it to their advantage.
- Users want to be in control of their browser and prefer consistent data presentation for as long as they surf the website. For example, they do not want to be unpleasantly surprised by pop-up windows when they’re least expecting them, and they want the ‘Home’ button to take them back to their homepage.
With the above in mind, here are a few pointers that every novice Web designer ought to make a note of.
1. Make It Easy to Understand
Make sure you design a website that is straight-forward and self-explanatory. When a user visits it, he should not be left puzzled about just how to navigate through it. It has to be intuitive.
If the navigation and the site architecture aren’t instinctive, the users will be left with several unanswered questions, which will make it difficult for them to determine as to how to get to point A from point B.
Your design needs to have a well-defined structure; reasonable visual clues and easily identifiable links which can help them find what they are searching for. The site should be easy to understand as that will enable the users to benefit from it and hence, keep returning to your website for more.
2. There Should Be No Hindrance(s)
Remove all hindrances and barriers such as user registrations and subscriptions prior to using your website’s services and/or tools. People visit your website to try them out, and not to provide you their personal information in exchange for something they may or may not use in the future.
Give them the freedom to play around and explore the website and its features, and discover the services in the process, without being forced into sharing their private data. The less the user requirements remain, the higher are the chances of attracting traffic to the website.
3. Create Something Striking
On any website, certain aspects of the user interface end up attracting more attention than the others. When users see text and images placed together, it goes without saying that their eyeballs will gravitate more towards the latter.
A great way of getting your users to focus their attention on specific areas of the website and help them get to point B from point A intuitively is by moderate use of visual elements like images and videos.
Such elements should be able to provide them with a better sense of orientation, which reduces the cognitive load as well as achieves the objective of designing a website with usability.
4. Let the Features Stand Out
It is a good idea to (sometimes) let your creative juices flow and come up with those jazzy visual effects and large buttons on the website in a bid to help users steer through it. If done sensibly, these features can work wonders in leading users through the site content in a simple, user-friendly manner.
Make the various functions of the website clear to the users and most of your interface designing troubles will disappear right away. Once all the elements of the website are well-understood by the users, they will feel comfortable experimenting with the provided features.
5. Focus on Effective Writing
Here are a few dos and don’ts of effective writing for the Web –
- Use concise phrases and arrive at the topic at hand as soon as possible
- Break the content up, categorize it, employ readable fonts and font sizes, use headings, bullet points and visual elements which will help you avoid presenting it as large text boxes.
- Keep your language simple as opposed to purely promotional. Give your users solid reasons for sticking to your website and continue using your services/tools.
- Use plain and large chunks of text devoid of images to get your points across. It will be ignored.
- Overstate and/or assign unprofessional-sounding, marketing-induced, company-specific, and unfamiliar technical names. In short, keep promotional writing at bay.
6. White Space is Good
Let there be room for white space as it can go a long way in reducing the cognitive load for users and make it easier for them to view the data presented and divide the content into readable pieces of information.
Cramped-up and complex structures are harder to read, scan and analyze. Including ample amount of white space into the page can help you turn things around.
A good web design is one that resonates with the users at all levels. Several web designers succeed at creating perfect websites because they know their basics and pay attention to the details. The above mentioned tips provide every web designer with the clarity he would need make a success of himself by steering him in the right direction.
John Siebert. (2015, March 1). "The Absolute Minimum Every Novice Web Designer Must Know" http://designrfix.com [online article]. Retrieved March 11, 2015, from http://designrfix.com/web-design/absolute-minimum-novice-web-designer
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