For any website designed to bring profit, simply looking good is not enough. The success of a website depends on its usability and features rather than on visual appearance. No surprise, more websites turn to user-centric design approaches to convert interested people to potential buyers. We’re not talking only e-commerce. Everything said is actual for non-profits and volunteers as well. No matter your purposes of building a website, usability means a lot.
From the article, you’ll learn the 8 web design principles and approaches to create websites with better usability. These principles can create sophisticated designs and more importantly simply the process of browsing for users.
A majority of online users click or stay on the website only if there is something interesting or useful for them. Users prefer to navigate websites that are credible and avoid low-quality websites. People are very impatient and scan and go to straight specific anchors and areas on the website – e.g. CTA buttons or “More about” section. Usually, users skip most of your copy and want your website to be as clear as possible and free of distractions.
1. Clear and self-explanatory design.
Your web page should be clear and self-explanatory. It should allow users to make conscious decisions. Your design must navigate people through the page not put them in an embarrassing state. A page with a clear structure, visual content and CTA buttons can help users find and get what they need.
Online users tend to explore websites in an F-shaped pattern with a lot of scanning the top horizontal part. Even with a simple design, the web page should ensure to present clear and useful visual elements located at the top.
2. Avoid testing the users’ patience.
Minimize the need for users to take actions such as filling out long forms or mandatory registrations. These actions turn off users and make them leave the page without giving you a second chance to tell more about your product. Users will share their names and emails only after they find what they need and are conveyed they can trust you.
Few websites provide unobtrusive and comfortable experience by never requesting any data from the users. Some websites make subscriptions simple with a horizontal form without scrolling the page. Mandatory user registration prevents users from browsing the website and reduces your online traffic.
3. Focus user attention.
People get attracted by eye-catching images and text that are bold or large in size. Videos are great for telling more about your product or mission but it makes your page slower. As for video ads, those can be highly disruptive and should be considered carefully.
Some users are more attracted to specific words such as “Free”, and “Discount”. Using these power words help anchor people on a specific area or navigate their behavior through the web site funnel. Your design should trigger users to take action.
4. Visually appealing features.
Web pages of these days have designs that guide people to take actions by using large buttons and visually pleasing effects. Such guided actions lead visitors through the website in a simple and effective way and help you get the result you need whether it’s a sign-up, creating an account or a checkout.
Designs with light color elements and clear functions make navigation intuitive. To achieve a visually appealing page, keep your design balanced by using calm colors, sections, and proper typography. Think of how to make every element stand out and have all the page elements connected to appeal to the users. Ideally, you build a funnel with all the elements.
5. Effective content.
Your web content should reflect the preferences and styles of your online users and their browsing habits. Visitors will definitely skip a long text without images or breaks. They tend to skip hard-to-understand language and unfamiliar terminologies.
For effective content, use short and precise sentences. You can layout the content in paragraphs, bullet lists for quick scanning. The language of the content should be simple and objective without complex words. And add pictures, infographics, and GIFs to your copy.
6. Simple design.
Users rarely pay attention to the designs of a website. They look for the information or solution they are here for. So don’t make your page complex or overwhelmed by ads. Tell your potential customers about solutions instead. And while talking about how you can help, make usability easy and quick so even a 70-year old can understand it.
7. Conventional design.
Using contents that display clear visibility produces effective communication to users. According to Aaron Marcus, the contents on a page use three fundamental principles to create effective communications – organize, economize, and communicate.
Organize content in a clear and consistent format. You need to economize and use minimal visual cues and visual elements. These minimal elements should be simple, clear, distinctive and emphasize the information. All components of the design should be clear and distinct without ambiguity. The design elements must match the user expectations and be legible and readable. It needs to have appropriate typography, views, and colors.
You can also use a maximum of three typefaces and point sizes in your content. Each sentence should have a maximum of 18 words or 50 to 80 characters per line.
White space around page elements makes it look clear without any clutter around them. It helps to reduce the cognitive load of the users and perceive your web content effectively. It also helps first-time users to easily scan for the required information on the page.
White space makes it easy to read, scan and use complex elements on the page. You need to prefer to use white space over other element separators.
8. Testing your design.
Web pages created with conventional design are clear and exciting to use. The conventions elements reduce the user learning curve and gain confidence and trust. It also improves your credibility and matches user expectations in navigation, data, and searches.
It is better to find alternative and innovative designs only when it needed or resolves a specific issue. In all other cases, the conventional design provides the benefits and fulfills web design objectives.
All new website needs to be extensively tested during the early stages and very frequently during later stages. It helps to fix crucial usability issues and identify other hidden bugs that could slip into the website. You should never defer your testing to later stages nor test too little to fix all your usability issues.
Usability testing should be iterative with repeated design, develop and testing phases. It points out issues and major design flaws in your website. It is not appropriate for a developer or a designer to test as they cannot observe testing from a fresh perspective. It should be tested by qualified and experienced testers to weed out the bugs.
The above sections have provided you the various design principles that help you to create web design with high usability. It leads to high user traffic, reduces bounce rates and leads to more sales or conversions. Usability plays a vital role in the success of a website.