We’ve all been there. We land on a page and initially think, “This has to be one of the most beautiful pages I’ve ever seen.” Within a minute, however, we’ve dramatically changed our tune as we can’t find anything that we’re looking for. Frustrated and annoyed, we abandon the page and vow never to return. Now that can’t be the point, can it?
Despite what many designers may think it isn’t how pretty a page is, but how easily it is used and how little stress users experience while there that determines how good a page is. So, let this be a call out from all users. By all means, designers, spend your time making certain your page is a gorgeous display of the latest scroll bars, layouts and font types. But by God, make sure you spend an equal amount of time making certain that we can actually find what we’re looking for!
How do you do that? Here are some good ideas to consider
If it doesn’t load, don’t bother
About half your audience will desert you if your page isn’t loaded within two seconds. That seems like a big sacrifice to make for a few nice graphics, don’t you think? So, as those first few seconds are immensely valuable, take the time to make certain that your page loads correctly and properly.
That doesn’t mean you immediately have to upgrade the servers where you house your websites. Though that is an option, it is an expensive one. Instead, consider having your page load in stages, with the more vital information presented first, so that users can immediately engage, and less vital information likes ads, presented a little later.
What, ads presented a little later?
Yes, because if people are frustrated with the load time and deserting your website en masse, they aren’t going to be clicking on those. And what it the point of ads if nobody is clicking on them?
The F and the Z of page reading
When looking at a page people scan it in what is known as a ‘Z’ or an ‘F’ pattern, where they start at the top left, scan along the top and then – based on how text rich the page is, either go down and across (in the case of a less text-rich page) or go straight down the left hand side (when the page is text rich) scanning for what they’re looking for.
It means that your most important and vital elements need to be either along the top, in the middle (if you’re working with images) or down the left-hand side (if you’re working with text) as that is where users will be more likely to notice it.
Negative space is good space
Sites that have too much going on are going to put your user on the defensive. For that reason, make certain that you’ve got enough empty space on your site. It will serve to calm the eye, make them more likely to engage and make it immediately clear to the user where they should focus their attention, which is an especially valuable strategy when you’ve got a call to action.
Don’t use the Hamburger Button
What am I talking about? I’m talking about the three bars that kind of look like a hamburger if you squeeze your eyes nearly shut, tilt your head sideways and hit yourself in the head with a brick. A lot of designers have started using it, believing that everybody knows that this is where extra menus will go.
The thing is, a lot of people don’t.
Yes, a lot of millennials will be familiar with the button from having played with Apple products since they could crawl. Not all internet users are millennials, however. So I’m joining the impassioned chorus to call for you not to use it. You’re making it even harder for those people that didn’t grow up learning how to speak with emoticons and for many of them the internet and the speed it evolves at is already hard enough.
Avoid typographic monotony
Remember those professors that had the incredible knack to turn even the most interesting topic boring? They’d be describing a vital battle and all you wanted, more than anything in the whole wild world, was for them to inflict friendly fire upon themselves? That’s what it’s like if you use only one font type throughout your page.
So, unless you want everybody to think you’re a government page with information that’s at least half a decade out of date, don’t do it.
Instead, realize the power of different font types and sizes, bolding, italicizing, bullet points and whatever else you can pull out of the closet. Your scanners (users really don’t read anymore) will thank you for it.
Also, be aware that different fonts have different effects on readers, like making something seem more authoritative, easier to understand and even funnier. And yes, the differences are only a few percent but seeing as they’re so easy to achieve and a few percent means hundreds of potential customers when you’re dealing with thousands of visitors, which has to be worth looking into.
Colors affect users so know what they do
Some colors affect trustworthiness, others affect engagement and a few more influence what kind of audience you’re likely to attract. So before just splattering a color across your page because it looks good, take the time find out what different colors do to your audience.
In fact, all your visual content ideas need to be very carefully considered, as this is the very first place people look (while too often it’s the last thing many content creators think about).
People like videos
They do. What’s more, most page designers like them too and with good reason as they engage consumers, lead to greater sharing and even lead to a much higher conversion rate.
Here are some statistics about videos:
- Including videos on a landing page increases conversion rates by 80%
- Video and full page ads boost engagement by 22%
- 65% of executives visit the marketer’s website and 39% call a vendor after viewing a video
- 92% of mobile video consumers share videos with each other
(All statistics have taken from insivia.com)
So yes, they’re an investment of time, but as they enhance the user experience (And conversion rates, and share rates) that’s an investment that’s almost always well worth it.
Work on your page hierarchy
Though users never see how you’ve arranged your pages, they’ll certainly feel it! On some pages, everything is obvious and in the right place while in others they have to get into a frustrated clickfest to get where they want to go. And we all know which we’d prefer.
And that while the clickfests are so easy to avoid! Just make certain that your pages are reachable from one central menu and all of this is entirely avoided, with people having to click through far less pages and search through far less content.
It isn’t just your users who prefer it if your pages are easy to navigate either. It’s something that Google bots appreciate as well and will therefore, make it far more likely that the information you’ve actually got on your page will be correctly represented in their algorithms. That has been a nice bonus, don’t you think?
The speed at which web design is advancing is truly astounding, with new innovations and new ideas constantly being embraced and becoming the new norm. This is fantastic for consumers, as it means that pages and by extension the internet become ever easier to navigate and information becomes easier to find.
It’s a bit of a headache for designers, however, as it means that they’ve got to work really hard just to stay in place in the web-design arms race. However frustrated you might feel, however, you don’t really have a choice, because if you fall behind, you can actually damage your credibility and your brand, with users trusting your site less and quickly switching over to sites that are closer to the cutting edge.
For that reason, take the time look at the anatomy of your web page and tackle the big issues of web design for startups. Because a poorly designed page will leave people frustrated and annoyed, and what’s the point of having a webpage if all it does is damage your brand?