Many would argue the most important aspect of a website is visual design, the bells and whistles that make a site look great. The savvy developer knows to create a website you have to be as mindful of utility. It is the visitor’s behavior that makes or breaks a site. This means user-focused design has to a consideration for any profit-oriented web design to succeed. Ultimately, if your users cannot find what they want, if your design cannot convince them to use a feature, your website fails miserably.
If you want to execute a website with a high potential for success, you need to take a closer look at the heuristics, approaches and principles of strong design when you make a website. These are practices that will promote sophisticated design decisions and simplify the process of getting converts.
Here are three important principles to consider for designing a well-organized site.
Determine How Users Think and Behave
- Your site visitors are at the very least interested in something on your site. It’s why they found your page. From this point, you need an experience that continues to pique their interests. With each new view, they should scan text, check out images and videos, and ultimately click-through to conversion. One thing to keep in mind: like walking through a physical store, there are parts of the experience a user may completely ignore. In that regard, you don’t want overwhelming or unnecessary content.
- High quality content demonstrates credibility and authority. If the content provides value, users are usually willing to overlook advertisements and even poor site design. Many less-than-stellar websites get a lot of traffic because their content still attracts users. In this context, content is essentially more important than design.
- Users scan before they read, if they read at all. On average, users look for fixed points of interest or anchors to guide them through content. Use bold and large text to make it easier for visitors to find the highlights quickly such as headings and keywords.
- The Internet has changed the way we absorb information. A couple of negative aspects of this is web users want instant gratification and aren’t willing to wait for it. If a site isn’t supplying what they need quickly, the design has failed. You want easy navigation, fast loads and value that doesn’t waste user time. Any website that doesn’t fit the bill is inviting the visitor to hit the BACK button and look for another resource on that search engine results page.
- On average, your visitors will not make optimal choices. They want the quickest way to get what they’re looking for. It’s why studies show that users will pick one of the first three choices on the first page of their searches. They want the link that satisfies the objective quickly as opposed to the best option.
Create Content to Focus User Attention
- Good websites promote both dynamic and static content. Some media will attract more attention than others. Video and bold sentences are prime examples. Highly non-linear, the human eye instantly takes note of patterns, edges and motions. That’s why video ads can be distracting and annoying to many users, even if these elements do effectively catch the eye. To avoid distracting or even frustrating visitors, we have to manage the principle of focus. One element that always works is the word “FREE.” It’s an appealing and informative keyword that immediately makes visitors want to know more.
- Visual elements will focus attention. Of course, many sites are going too far in this respect, throwing too many ads and pop-ups that deliberately cover content. More often than not, the practice frustrates users, sending them elsewhere. Visitors want to get between points without road blocks. The less distraction the better sense of orientation and control they’ll have. You want to give users less to think about, providing straightforward experiences. This develops trust between users and the business running the site.
Utilize Smart, Effective, Compelling Writing
- On the web, it is important to utilize writing styles that take advantage of user browsing habits and preferences. Today’s savvy web visitor will scan and then skip over overly-promotional copy. Exaggerated language will be dismissed. They will tire of large blocks of text without images, videos, bold or italicized text, headings and bullet or numbered lists.
- Depending on subject matter and company directives, minimize clever, cute, market-influenced or company-specific names. Avoid exceptionally unfamiliar technical names and phrasing. Use your CTAs smartly. Suggest users create an account with “Sign Up” as opposed to “Start Now!” What comes before the direct CTA should have already influenced a decision instead of a last desperate attempt to convince them.
Effective writing uses:
- Concise and brief phrasing, getting to the point quickly.
- A scannable design that categorizes content, has multiple heading levels, takes advantage of visual elements and uses lists to create a nice visual flow.
- Objective and plain language that doesn’t sound too salesy. Content should be informative as opposed to full-blown promotional. Despite the hard sell you can find all the Internet, smart users are much more likely to make a decision based on formal, professional objective pitches than a presentation that claims to be the only choice.
- A website and every web page has to be self-explanatory. Users should see the obvious. If site architecture and navigation lack intuitiveness, you make it harder for your visitors to make decisions about your wares because they’re too busy figuring out how your site works. You don’t want this. When you create a website, you want subtle visual clues, clear structures and easy to find links that promote easy access to what visitors want to find.
Minimized cognitive loading gives your users a direct grasp of the system and intent. Achieving this, you promote communication and direction. Users will see why the system fulfills their needs and the best ways to benefit from it. The bottom line is not paying attention to principles like these greatly increases the change visitors will look elsewhere on the web to find what they want.