In today’s society we are constantly exposed to the web and its endless amount of websites. We skim through the sites like a book not taking much, if any, notice to the design and content on the pages. That is why it’s a web designer’s job to make you take notice. While it may seem simple, it’s not; web design goes beyond eye-catching colour schemes and well placed elements into a world of design you didn’t realise existed.
Thanks to advancing technology companies are continuously producing new services and products to their customers, with each new release brings more shortcuts to everyday lifestyle choices. As a result of this creation of ‘life hacks’ the convenience-crazed audience is becoming lazier, meaning that its becoming harder to not only attract, but interact with an engaged audience. Web design therefore is increasingly more important, ensuring that web usability is the best it can be.
Web usability is the fundamentals of a website. Essentially how it functions due to the format and design it runs on. Web usability is what makes an audience decide whether or not they will stay and pursue the site. These web users are searching for a quick solution, with little effort on their behalf – making them prime examples for the ‘principle of least effort’ concept.
The ideology comes from Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s book: ‘Thinking fast and learning slow’. The book introduced the systems that determine how our brains work; the first system discussed allows us to make quick decisions with no difficult brain work, the second system is dependent on analytic thought that requires more mental effort. As a trend the audience always prefer to use system one and as it means they have to put in little mental effort.
When you relate this to the web user you identify how if they don’t find the solution quickly they will retract and search another website. This being because they are unwilling to activate system two by searching the website in further depth. Ultimately it highlights how the web design must leave a trail, think breadcrumbs, for the user to follow if they don’t want to lose them.
The ideal goal for a web design is one that encourages interaction, a user experience that is going to result in them sharing to Facebook or signing up to a newsletter for example. So how do you keep your user engaged all the way to the interaction point?
Well as a starter you can easily improve your web usability by minimizing the cognitive load – basically keeping it simple. For instance, is there any information or text that can be swapped for a picture instead? Gives the user the same information, but reduces the effort required from them. Furthermore, if you have look at the successful websites you’ll identify that they all share similar traits, so make sure you build off of existing mental models – it’ll make your website seem more familiar and less daunting to your user.
This is all just scratching the surface of web design, but what is clear is that web design is as complex as it is crucial in today’s world. Make sure to invest some time into your website design if you want to attract and interact with your audience.