eScalent’s Approach to Web Design
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Usability and the utility for the website visitor determines the success of a website. User-centric design has become a standard approach for successful and profit-oriented web design. Being user-centric means that we need to understand how users interact with websites and their behavior on the website.
- Users normally glance at each new page, scan some of the text, and click on the first link that catches their interest and notably, there are large parts of the page they don’t even look at. If the new page doesn’t meet users’ expectations, the search process is continued on another page.
- Users appreciate quality, credibility & simplicity. If a page with high-quality content is muddled with advertisements in spite of a beautiful design, it may not evince interest. Content is more important than the design which supports it.
- Users don’t read, they retina-scan. They analyze a web-page, search for some fixed points or anchors which relate them with the content of the page. If the scanning is cumbersome with bad navigation, the users leave the web-site and search for alternatives.
- Users don’t use logic to search for the quickest way to find the information they’re looking for. They choose the most easy and evident option. As soon as they find a link that seems like it might lead to the goal, there is a very good chance that it will be immediately clicked. A good guiding layout is hard to design and it takes real efforts and experience.
- Users want reliable and consistent data presentation throughout the site. They don’t want new windows popping up unexpectedly and they want to be able to get back with a “Back”-button to the site they’ve been before: therefore it’s a good practice to never open links in new browser windows.
- The usability of any web-page should be obvious and self-explanatory. User should be able to make decisions consciously, considering pros, cons and alternatives.
Bad navigation and site architecture makes it harder for users to comprehend how to get from point A to point B. A clear structure, moderate visual clues and easily recognizable links can help users to find their path to their aim.
- Good websites are specifically designed for less action required from users to test a service. Visitors are encouraged to play with the service, not filling long web forms for an account they might never use in the future. It’s not reasonable to force users to enter an email address to test the feature. Users would probably be eager to provide an email address if they were asked for it after they’d seen the feature work. A good interaction will be through forms, that have horizontal orientation and does not require scrolling.
- A per the principle of focus, Web-users can instantly recognize edges, patterns and motions. This is why video-based advertisements are extremely annoying and distracting, but from the marketing perspective they perfectly do the job of capturing users’ attention. Focusing users’ attention to specific areas of the site with a moderate use of visual elements can help your visitors to get from point A to point B without thinking of how it actually is supposed to be done.
- A good design guides users with visually appealing 1-2-3-done-steps. Such guidelines are extremely effective as they lead the visitors through the site content in a very simple and user-friendly way. Letting the user see clearly what functions are available is a fundamental principle of successful user interface design. It doesn’t really matter how this is achieved. What matters is that the content is well-understood and visitors feel comfortable with the way they interact with the system.
- As the Web is different from print, it’s necessary to adjust the writing style to users’ preferences and browsing habits. Promotional writing or use of long text blocks without images and keywords or exaggerated language will be ignored. Use of short and concise phrases, categorized content, multiple heading levels, good visual elements and bulleted lists etc works better!
- The “keep it simple”-principle (KIS) should be the primary goal of site design. Users are rarely on a site to enjoy the design; furthermore, in most cases they are looking for the information despite the design. A good design strives for simplicity instead of complexity.
- White spaces as a primary design element, help to reduce the cognitive load for the visitors, and makes it possible to scan the page and divide the content area into digestible pieces of information. The better you manage to provide users with a sense of visual hierarchy, the easier your content will be to perceive.
- A good website communicates effectively through major elements like simplicity, clarity, distinctiveness, and emphasis. Simplicity includes only the elements that are most important for communication. Clarity ensures that the communication is not ambiguous. Distinctiveness of content with emphasis on important elements makes the site a true winner.
- Conventional design of site elements reduce the learning curve and helps you can gain users’ confidence and trust. It’s better to innovate only when you know you really have a better idea, but take advantages of conventions when you don’t.
- Usability tests often provide crucial insights into significant problems and issues related to a given layout. It’s necessary to understand that most design decisions are local; that means that you can’t universally answer whether some layout is better than the other one as you need to analyze it from a very specific point of view considering requirements, stakeholders, budget etc.
And lastly but not the least, there are other important points to keep in mind. Testing one user is cent percent better than testing none and testing one user early in the project is better than testing hundreds near the end. Errors are most frequent during requirements and design activities and are the more expensive the later they are removed. Usability tests always produce useful results. Either you’ll be pointed to the problems you have or you’ll be pointed to the absence of major design flaws which is in both cases a useful insight for your project. In a nutshell; a good website only happens after you have it really tested!