It's no doubt that these web design myths “controlling”, just like some “tyrants” the online world, have initially emerged as web design innovative notions, turned into widely used techniques and, finally, into highly influencing web design trends.
It's also true that since their “adopters” have started to take them way too literally or to refuse to adapt them to the ever-evolving digital landscape, to the ever-changing users' digital behaviors, these web design practices have gradually turned into... myths. Into rigid, “dusty” web design mindsets risking to affect both the design's quality itself and the website visitors' experiences.
Be better than that! Be smarter than that! Take smarter design decisions than those still “stuck” with these preconceived assumptions which are no longer relevant in 2017's web design context.
And here are the 10 web design myths “exposed”:
1. "The 3 Second Rule"
This is probably the best exemplification of a notion turned into a rigid “rule”. Of a concept taken ridiculously literally!
No need to develop a paranoia imagining your generic website visitor holding a timer in one hand and his mouse (if we're talking about a desktop user) in the other and counting precisely those 3 seconds! It's absurd!
The 3 second rule is just a figure of speech (it could easily be a 2 second a 4 or 5 second rule) “invented” only to stress the importance of an optimized page loading time. To “warn” you that you should constantly strive to boost your website's performance.
If your web pages load in, let's say, 4 seconds, it's really not the end of the world!
Instead, if they load in 3 seconds just to show a bad design and low quality content... then you might be, indeed, facing a major traffic problem!
2. "White Space Is a Wasted Chance of Capitalizing Space on My Site"
This is already a “prehistoric” type of web design preconception!
And we couldn't give you better examples than Google's front page and Apple's clean and airy design where big chunks of white space act as spotlights directing our eyes towards their “star” products!
“Clutter” is your biggest enemy when it comes to web design! While white space and moreover, strategically using it for guiding your users' attention towards key points on your website, well, this is almost an “art”!
Less sure is more, in this case! White space acts as a spotlight focused on the key content(s) on your web pages, but only if you just know just how to focus it!
3. "Mobile Device Users Are Always On the Fly and Easily Distracted"
It's a false assumption now “cemented” in the collective thinking: mobile device users are always on the go, always in a rush and easily distracted!
It's noting but an exaggerated generalization!
In fact, studies (Google's studies, the one that we're referring to here taken in 2012) have shown that:
- 68% of mobile device users are, in fact, accessing websites from their smartphones in the comfort of their homes (surprise, surprise!)
- 67% of desktop users are simultaneously using another device, as well, as compared to 57% of mobile device users.
We're all living in the age of distractions. We get constantly distracted whether we're just watching TV, doing online shopping on our smartphones or reading articles on our PCs!
You should still design for highly mobile users, but being fully aware that “on the run”, “striving to resist various distractions”, is not the main context that your mobile device users will be visiting your website in!
4. "Good Usability's a Must, While Good Aesthetics an Option"
This thinking's maybe one of the riskiest user experience pitfalls!
With all the web designers and web owners out there playing all their cards on good usability, they tend to undermine good aesthetics' key role or (even worse) to ignore it completely.
You can't effectively reach out to your users and turn them into customers, if you don't emotionally connect with them, first. If you don't strive to make the very best impression (and since we're all highly visual creatures, a “good first impression” is nothing but another word for “great looks”).
Usability's a very technical concept, made of certain (equally) technical, precise tactics to implement for achieving good usability on your website. While aesthetics is far more “human” and it's to humans that you need to reach out to first and only then to... “prospects”. Do keep that in mind!
When combined, these two “powers”, good usability and good aesthetics, or, better said, good usability and credibility (that good aesthetics invests your Drupal website with) you can't get but a superpower to turbocharge your website with!
5. "User Feedback Is Not to Be Questioned or Debated"
Of course that you should constantly ask for your users' feedback, it's vital for every business, be it online or not!
What you should avoid doing is: taking that feedback, all the comments that your visitors will leave on your site, too literally!
People don't always know what they want and they're quite bad at explaining their preferences, why is it that they like/dislike certain features on your website or anticipating their future choices/behaviors.
A “healthy” way of doing web design is to dig in, starting from your users' comments, to the core problems! Base your design decisions on those core problems to be solved, first and foremost! Complying with your users' suggestions/complains, should come second on your list of “motivations”.
6. "Simplicity Can Only Mean Minimalism"- One of the Popular Web Design Myths
And this web design myth is still influencing, to a great extent, web designers' work and website owners' design decision-making!
There's this popular belief turned into a whole trend, that you can't possibly achieve a simple design than by cutting out UI elements, by drastically reducing steps and user interactions on your website.
False! Even a complex web design can be made simple if you're a gifted web designer!
Focusing on simplifying users' experiences and reducing the visual surface (minimalism) is not the same thing as reducing all the “friction” that a way to laborious, overly demanding design would imply from the user's point of view (simplicity).
Its not the same thing as striving to reduce some of the energy that he/she would invest in visually “digesting” the content on your website.
Notice the difference?
7. "Good Design is Self-Sufficient"
“Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.”
Therefore, looks aren't everything and good design isn't self-sufficient! Visually-arresting graphics, cool fonts and visually-appealing colors won't compensate for the absence of high quality content.
In other words: if there's no happy “marriage” between web designers and content marketers, you'll be left with a great looking website that only you and your team will get to admire. For no user will ever find it!
If you don't enhance your great looking design with meaningful, engaging content that not only that completes it, but adds extra value to it, with content that addresses your visitors' needs, then your design won't go beyond its decorative function.
8. "The Homepage Is The Most Important Page on My Site"
Homepage's “supremacy” has started to fade away! If it used to be the page that users always landed on first, since it served as the main directory and, therefore, since there was no other way for accessing a website, today this is no longer the case.
And it's time that you, too, started to see the homepage's supremacy as a web design myth!
Now users can land directly on a product page, coming from certain links posted on social media or on other sites. Your website's visitors might not even get to visit the front page at all.
Moreover, and this is especially the case with websites selling products or services, you should accept the fact that your users aren't there for delighting themselves with the “wow” content on your homepage! For them your front page is nothing but a “gateway” to the product pages that they're really interested in. Or, depending on the site's specificity, to the information they can find on other pages of your Drupal site..
Think of Facebook! How often do you visit its homepage as a logged in user?
Put together, all the web pages on your site are much more frequented than your homepage. Just think about that!
9. "The Three Click/Two Tap Rule"
This is another baseless assumption! That all the elements on your website should be at a three-click's distance or a a two-tap's distance (on mobile devices).
Irrelevant! Whether your users decide to prolong their visits on your site or to leave it after just a few seconds, has nothing to do with this rule. User's main interest is to carry out his task (purchasing something, getting a key info etc.)
You could abide by the three click rule and still witness visitors leaving your website in a rush if the content that they'll you'll deliver them, after precisely these three clicks/two taps, doesn't engage them or meet their needs.
As a general rule: it's precisely when web design rules are taken too literally that they risk to turn into web design myths!
10. "Cutting Out The Navigational Choices"- One of the Influential Web Design Myths
Somehow this theory initially related strictly to short term memory and to multiple product choices, has started to impact web design, particularly navigation, as well!
It's one thing to cut out items from an excessive product/services collection (leading to the paradox of choice) and a completely different thing to start removing pages from your navigational bar/menus.
It's those pages that grant your user easy access to the content on your site that he's interested in. It's them that will enhance his/her exploration of your website!
So, instead of blocking his/her access to different web pages on your Drupal site and of negatively impacting his overall experience with your website, you'd better figure out how to efficiently group these pages.
And it seems that we've reached the end of our list of 10 web design myths you should be aware of and... stay away from! Have you “busted” others, as well?