User experience and usability!
Such “trendy” principles in today's web-design communities. Such powerful trends influencing major decisions-making processes in the digital world.
And yet, recent studies have proven that, although every web designer appears to be striving to craft the most engaging user experiences, to create web design “in the name of usability”, too many of them make the same mistakes as 20 years ago (when the approach to web design wasn't as sophisticated as nowadays or the expert advice as accessible as in the present days).
Well, it's time for you to “shake off" these “bad habits”, to take advantage of this time of year (a time of resolutions making) for making some strong commitments in this respect.
And here they are, the 5 long-lasting web design errors that we'd like to “confront” you with:
1. Failing at Responding to Users' Need for Clarity
Whether you're deliberately compromising clarity for the sake of “innovation”, for showing off your creativity, or you're simply overlooking its key role, it's time you helped your design (re)gain its clarity!
It's time you (re)considered your relation with your website's visitors:
- you need to “serve” them first, by making it crystal-clear where they need to click and where exactly all the clicking will take them to
- and only then to “gain them over” with your talent and “appetite” for innovation.
It's not the other way round. It never is!
Now here are some “long-living” web design mistakes affecting clarity:
A. Unexpected content placement/Ambiguous category names
We preferred pairing these two examples of “popular” web design mistakes since they both lead to the same unwanted result: users getting the feeling that the particular content they're searching for is always somewhere else on the website.
It's perfectly legitimate and even advisable, as a web designer in Toronto or as a website owner, to want to break up the conventional patterns of design.
And yet, be aware that “you're playing with fire”.
Interfering with you users' browsing habits, placing certain pieces of content where they would never have expected to find them, might have the opposite effect: discouraging your visitors due to the time they will have wasted looking the information they needed.
Also, if you fail to clearly name your categories and your visitors land on web pages of your site having nothing to do with the content they were expecting to find (signaled by the “inappropriate” way in which you named your categories), you risk to make them bounce off your site for good.
B. Hidden fees
Reducing prices' visibility or hiding away certain fees is the quickest way to “crafting” a negative user experience!
So, shake off this bad habit and make a pledge for designing exclusively big and bold pricing information this year!
C. Misleading, almost identical links or navigational categories
It says it all: you risk (again) to piss off your visitors, who'll land on the “wrong” pages on your website for didn't stick to the principle of clarity when naming your links/navigational categories.
And this is how you lose some potential loyal visitors which could have converted into customers!
2. Failing at Efficiently Applying Basic UX Principles
How will your website's visitors find the needed information on your website? This is the question!
The question that should keep you alert throughout the whole designing process, lest you should wrongly apply or forget all about the fundamental UX “rules”.
You should envision your “mission like this: blazing your user's path to the due destination. Which is the information that he/she's searching for on your site!
And by “stuffing” your text paragraphs with internal links, placing your buttons in unexpected places or hiding away your navigation bar sure is not the way to do it!
Now here are some common UX errors you should commit yourself to avoiding this year:
A. Repetitive similar links
Resist the “temptation” of turning your visitors' quest for specific information hosted on your website into a “mission impossible”.
Forcing them to click on a heavy loads of almost identical links, over and over again, in order to access the information they're actually looking for, is nothing but a “sloppy” web design practice.
And you will only “succeed” in discouraging your visitors.
B. “Islets” of information
Here's a basic UX principle that way too may web designed keep “overlooking” even now, when “usability” is one every web designer in Toronto's lips: connecting together webpages hosting similar type of information.
You should avoid stranding your visitors on “final destination” type of web pages on your site. They do find the information they were looking for (hopefully), but are not “lured” with alternative destinations, as well: other pages on your website presenting a similar type of information that they might find useful.
In conclusion: make sure you don't “sabotage” yourself. Permanently “tempt” visitors with alternative pages they could visit, pages linked to the ones that they'll access first both through phsycal clickable links and through the similarity of the information that these pages provide!
C. Irrelevant search results
Remember: UX is all about lightening your users' path to the information they need.
Now imagine the following scenario: your visitor types his/her search items into your navigation bar, get the suggested link of a specific page on your website only to land there and to discover that it has nothing to do with the type of content he was expecting to find, based on his specific search terms.
How did you let this happen?
You've incorrectly or insufficiently tagged your facets and filters!
Now that you know how to avoid this mistake, you'll have no excuse for letting the above scenario turn into reality on the websites you'll design in 2017!
D. Casting away users on micro-sites
This is a web design mistake related to the one causing “islets” of information (that we've already detailed here).
Probably the most popular website relying on sub-sites is Yahoo. And this is a good example of web design: users are directed to visit certain subsites while they're provided with the way to go back on the main site, as well.
This is a good practice that you, too, should stick to when you handle sub-sites web design: whenever you suggest your users to visit a certain sub-site, remember to always make the home button as visible as possible.Otherwise you'll just cast them away, you'll drive them off the main website and thus “sabotage” yourself.
Why would you want that?
3. Failing at Creating An Effective Information Architecture
What's the point in creating valuable content when you, afterwards, “sabotage” yourself by making it discouragingly difficult for them to scan through it?
A well planned information architecture is what makes the difference between hasty web design and perfectly structured, intuitive navigation flow-ensuring web design. It's the very foundation stone of good design!
An effective information structure implies organizing, labeling and structuring the whole content available on your website as clearly as possible.
By the time you start to actually design your website, you'll have everything planned: how your future visitors will get from one section of your website to another, your page order, the number of pages your website will have, everything, to the slightest details, will have already been thought through.
What's the purpose of all these content structuring efforts?
Your users will effortlessly and quickly understand what your site is about, will be able to scam through its content and to easily “detect” the specific information that they're looking for.
Now here are 2 major information architecture mistakes you should avoid:
A. Content clutter
We'll never stop “bugging” you with this advice (presented to you in various forms) on this blog: declutter your website and you'll half won your “battle”!
Think “5 second attention span” and then think “fierce competition in the digital marketing arena” (competition which will get even fiercer this year).
No visitors will have the time or the will to try and “digest” huge blocks of text and to waste too much energy trying to navigate their way though piles of images, overcrowded products galleries or cluttered apps (weather app, countdown app, audio player etc.).
So, never bid on your user's goodwill!
Instead, do your best or easing his/her job for “digesting” the content on your website:
- shorten your paragraphs
- give white (or so called: "empty space") space its due importance
- always bid of bullets
B. Hidden relevant links
And here we get to the risk of “auto-sabotaging” again!
Avoid placing relevant links in totally inappropriate, hard to find places on your website, such as amidst ads.
It will be like “looking for a needle in a haystack” for your visitors to find these particular links and thus you'll run the risk of blocking their access to key pages on your website.
This is how our list of web design “don'ts” for 2017 looks like!
Think them through, see which one(s) of them has been part of your work routine for too long now and make a pledge to “brake up with it/them” this year!
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