26 Feb Is your overly effective web design, getting in the way of engaging the user?
I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.
Subjecting your users to excruciating web designs sometimes by intentionally sidestepping and sometimes by over-stressing on the engagement quotient, can test their nerves.
For those who think a goodly emphasis on designing is an exercise in frivolity, must know that 1st impressions are 94% design-related.
And if you’re someone who swears by meaningful content; then, Yes, it matters a great deal, but is powerless when it features in a poor web design.
Whether it’s a result of your warped imagination of what your users want or a careful aforethought, risking engagement can efficiently ruin your grand plans.
A few (sites) that entered the list of worst web designs by a stroke of (bad) luck, must’ve definitely been created in the best interest of the user.
Here we try to untangle a few notions that won’t just aid website owners, but practicing web designers too.
1) Usability and User Experience: Different yet entwined!
Many a times, user experience is butchered in the name of usability and vice versa.
Even though User experience subsumes Usability, they’re quite different; and are yet like the kins who are inseparable from each other.
Usability’s sole aim is to ensure ease of use, so people can effortlessly accomplish the goal a website was intended for.
Whereas User Experience is to make your audience happy, so they stick around; it’s a heady concoction of design, features, content, details of interaction, animation, fonts and of course–usability. Sites like Venables Bell & Partners, Yoke, Fior di Latte Gelato, Evolve, The Good Man, WebKnit, I Shot Him, etc., offer excellent user experience. But at the core, they offer exceptional usability.
Here’s what you should ensure-
a) Don’t shy away from Headlines on the Homepage (even if that sounds sale-sy to you). They’re meant to smartly convey what you’re about. See Shopify.
b) Inconsistent typography can mar the readability besides making you look inexperienced and immature.
2) A word of Caution: Don’t let your Best become someone’s Worst!
Your web design is the virtual you. You’re solely liable for the impact it’ll make on your users and the image it reflects of you. It is also going to showcase your awareness, knowledge/skill, sophistication, (brand) personality, etc. Everything’s going to contribute in attracting or repelling your audience.
In a bid to make a lasting impression, don’t give into the temptation of OVER DESIGNING. It might sound cute, to let your audience have a whale of a time, but it can be hazardous for your website.
Even if you’re a web designer you don’t need to display your rarest feats on your website.
Who knows you might venture too far and your brilliance becomes ludicrous for someone!
Quick Tip: When in doubt, go for a Minimalistic web design, it merges beauty and simplicity effortlessly.
3) Engage the user gradually: Don’t flood them with info
Your web design should express your marketing communication effectively. For that it’s important you engage the user step by step. Depending on what your website offers, educate your users with the form and function of your design methodically.
For instance, if you’re an app manufacturer- whet their appetite with the most fascinating features of your app first. If you need users engagement to demonstrate all its features, try to persuade them as creatively as possible, without forcing them.
Before you ask them to sign up any forms, make them understand what it’s about and why should they do it.
A sales pitch up-front pointing them straight to reveal their credit card details will make them uncomfortable. Let your visitors browse your website first, fill their shopping cart (if you have an eCommerce site), and leave without buying anything. At least that way they’ll get to know you better.
Consider the travel meta-search engine Kayak, it has a clutter free layout, with absolutely nothing on its homepage for confusion. Just pick where you need to go, browse, click, sift through without disrupting your experience.
4) Entertain the Experienced and the Newbie alike!
Not everyone would be easy to please; some may not be familiar with your line of work, some with technology (consider the boomers). Since they’ve come looking for you, they might be interested in relying on your skills. But if your website looks uninviting to them, their curiosity will go for a toss. Don’t let them draw a blank when they step on your site.
If need be, educate them. They might be interacting with a service provider, such as yourself, from your particular field for the first time.
On the other hand, making an overly simplified design might let an experienced client doubt your knowledge or expertise.
It’s always better to strike a balance innovatively. Show them what you are, one way is to lead them to your portfolio to give an idea what you can do for them.
Your audience will stay or leave guided by their intuition, but creating a web design that appeals to them can be your best bait.
Consider box.com, the file sharing and cloud content management service provider. Regardless of you being a first time user or an experienced one, its well-thought-out interface engages you effectively.
According to a Harvard report, websites that are perceived as attractive are also recognized as useful and credible.
The question isn’t about how easy or complicated is to achieve it, it’s about how far you are willing to meaningfully entertain your audience.
For a start pose a few questions to yourself (or your designer) like, is your site-
a) Useful b) Usable c) Valuable d) Desirable e) Credible f) Worth visiting again.
If you’re satisfied with all your answers, you’re on the right track.
So, unlike famously quoted by Alfred Hitchcock,to make a great film you need three things – a script, a script and a script, a good web design needs a lot more!