10 Principles Of Good Website Design And Effective Guidelines
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Principles Of Good Website Design And Effective Web design Guidelines.
Most users search for something interesting (or useful) and clickable; as soon as some promising candidates are found, users click. If the new page doesn’t meet users’ expectations, the Back button is clicked and the search process is continued.
- Users appreciate quality and credibility.
- Users don’t read, they scan.
- Web users are impatient and insist on instant gratification.
- Users don’t make optimal choices.
- Users follow their intuition.
- Users want to have control.
1. Don’t make users think
If the navigation and site architecture aren’t intuitive, the number of question marks grows. Which makes it harder for users to comprehend how the system works and 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.
Let’s take a look at an example Beyondis.co.uk claims to be “beyond channels, beyond products, beyond distribution”. Although the design itself is simple and intuitive, to understand what the page is about the user needs to search for the answer. This is what an unnecessary question mark is. It’s designer’s task to make sure that the number of question marks is close to 0.
The visual explanation is placed on the right hand side. Just exchanging both blocks would increase usability. Web Design Guidelines Expression Engine uses the very same structure like Beyondis. Furthermore, the slogan becomes functional as users are provided with options to try the service and download the free version.
2. Don’t squander users’ patience
Let users explore the site and discover your services without forcing them into sharing private data. It’s not reasonable to force users to enter an email address to test the feature. As Ryan Singer (developer of the 37Signals team), users would probably be eager to provide an email address if they were asked for it after they’d seen the feature work.
Stikkit is a perfect example for a user-friendly service which requires almost nothing from the visitor which is unobtrusive and comforting. And that’s what you want your users to feel on your web site.
Apparently, Mite requires more. However the registration can be done in less than 30 seconds, the user doesn’t even need to scroll the page. Ideally remove all barriers, don’t require subscriptions or registrations first. A user registration alone is enough of an impediment to user navigation to cut down on incoming traffic.
3. Manage to focus users’ attention
The human eye is a highly non-linear device, and 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.
Humanized perfectly uses the principle of focus. The only element which is directly visible to the users is the word “free” which works attractive and appealing, but still calm and purely informative. Subtle hints provide users with enough information of how to find more about the “free” product.
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. The less question marks visitors have, the better sense of orientation they have and the more trust they can develop towards the company the site represents.
4. Strive for feature exposure
Dibusoft combines visual appeal with clear site structure. The site has 9 main navigation options which are visible at the first glance. The choice of colors might be too light, though.
Letting the user see clearly what functions are available is a fundamental principle of successful UI design. It doesn’t really matter how this is achieved. What matters is that content is well-understood and visitors feel comfortable with the system.
5. Make use of effective writing
Talk business. Avoid cute or clever names, marketing-induced names, company-specific names, and unfamiliar technical names. For instance, if you describe a service and want users to create an account, “sign up” is better than “start now!” or “explore our services”.
Eleven2.com gets directly to the point. No cute words, no exaggerated statements. Instead a price: just what visitors are looking for. An optimal solution for effective writing is to
- use short and concise phrases (come to the point as quickly as possible),
- use scannable layout (categorize the content, use multiple heading levels, use visual elements and bulleted lists which break the flow of uniform text blocks),
- use plain and objective language. A promotion doesn’t need to sound like advertisement; give your users some reason why they should use your service or stay on your web-site.
6. Strive for simplicity
Strive for simplicity instead of complexity. From the visitors’ point of view, the best site design is a pure text, without any ads. This is one of the reasons why a user-friendly print-version of web pages is essential for good user experience. Finch clearly presents the information about the site and gives visitors a choice of options without overcrowding them with unnecessary content.
7. Don’t be afraid of the white space
Complex structures are harder to read, scan, analyze and work with. If you have the choice between separating two design segments by a visible line or by some white-space, it’s usually better to use the white-space solution. Hierarchical structures reduce complexity (Simon’s Law): the better you manage to provide users with a sense of visual hierarchy, the easier your content will be to perceive. White space is good. Cameron.io uses white space as a primary design element..
8. Communicate effectively with a “visible language”
- Organize: provide the user with a clear and consistent conceptual structure. Consistency, screen layout, relationships and navigability are important concepts of organization. The same conventions and rules should be applied to all elements.
- Economize: do the most with the least amount of cues and visual elements. Four major points to be considered: simplicity, clarity, distinctiveness, and emphasis. Simplicity includes only the elements that are most important for communication. Clarity: all components should be designed so their meaning is not ambiguous.
- Distinctiveness: the important properties of the necessary elements should be distinguishable. Emphasis: the most important elements should be easily perceived.
- Communicate: match the presentation to the capabilities of the user. The user interface must keep in balance legibility, readability, typography, symbolism, multiple views, and color or texture in order to communicate successfully. Use max. 3 typefaces in a maximum of 3 point sizes — a maximum of 18 words or 50-80 characters per line of text.
9. Conventions are our friends
Follow users’ expectations — understand what they’re expecting from a site navigation, text structure, search placement etc. A typical example from usability sessions is to translate the page in Japanese (assuming your web users don’t know Japanese, e.g. with Babelfish) and provide your usability testers with a task to find something in the page of different language. If conventions are well-applied, users will be able to achieve a not-too-specific objective, even if they can’t understand a word of it. Steve Krug suggests that it’s better to innovate only when you know you really have a better idea, but take advantages of conventions when you don’t.
10. Test early, test often
- according to Steve Krug, testing one user is 100% better than testing none and testing one user early in the project is better than testing 50 near the end. Accoring to Boehm’s first law, errors are most frequent during requirements and design activities and are the more expensive the later they are removed.
- testing is an iterative process. That means that you design something, test it, fix it and then test it again. There might be problems which haven’t been found during the first round as users were practically blocked by other problems.
- 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.
- according to Weinberg’s law, a developer is unsuited to test his or her code. This holds for designers as well. After you’ve worked on a site for few weeks, you can’t observe it from a fresh perspective anymore. You know how it is built and therefore you know exactly how it works — you have the wisdom independent testers and visitors of your site wouldn’t have.
Bottom line: if you want a great site, you’ve got to test.