We often talk about how important it is for your website to foster interaction with your users. You want them to linger, explore, share, and of course return on a regular basis. You must know the web design principles before building your website.
One of the biggest mistakes so many people make with their website is trying to do too much. If a site is cluttered with a seemingly random compilation of content, it can be overwhelming. Rather than click through to find the content they need, many people will click away out of impatience. What’s more is that too much content can detract from the site aesthetic.
Follow these 5 web design principles for optimal user interaction:
1. Know your audience
We’ve said it a hundred times, but we can’t say it enough. Almost every decision you make with your business, whether it’s for design, marketing, sales, or deciding on your next product offering, you need to know who you are speaking to. When it comes to web design, every designer needs to spend time looking at the target audience. What kind of content are they looking for? Is it entertainment, education, or purchasing a product? What do these people want to do when they go to your site?
Not everyone will be there for the same reason, but if you understand the most common things your typical user looks for, you are on a roll. This helps you and your designer to prioritize the approach when building the visitor experience. This knowledge helps to guide the design aesthetic, the placement of various elements, what your call-to-action is, navigation structure, and visual hierarchy.
2. Don’t make people think
This sounds a bit egotistical and frankly shallow, but even though your audience is likely more than capable of thinking, too much information just takes away from interaction. Since the Internet is a plethora of choices, it has become easier to choose nothing and just click away. A clear, visual layout of content and images makes it easy and actually helps to guide the desired interactions.
It’s not just about design either
It’s also about word choice. Novelty is wonderful, but sometimes it’s the straightforward stuff that is more effective in the long run. For example, users are typically more familiar with the verbiage “contact us” rather than “engage.”
3. Keep it simple
Again, we say this a lot, but it applies to almost everything. Simplicity allows designers to visually emphasize what the user wants and what they should do. Images and spare text oftentimes do much better than lengthy presentations. Simplicity has led to the rise of flat or minimalist websites that you often see today.
4. Be wise with #fonts, colors, and white space
These are all tied to your brand and can have a significant impact on the look and feel of your site. This does make a difference with interaction as well. All of these elements can make your site look credible or not, impacts usability, readability, and even the mood. This is why it is important to know your audience. You need to be able to cater to what they are looking for.
As a rule of thumb, limit the variety of fonts to 2 of 3. Don’t use large fonts or bold elements too frequently. And, appreciate white space. White space helps call attention to key elements and breaks up the page. Color choices can impact the mood of your site.
5. Design continuously evolves
Web design is unique in that it can unfold and grow overtime. It doesn’t have to remain stagnant. To ensure an optimal user experience, test, test, and test again from the start. Feedback is absolutely essential. If someone tells you they can’t access a certain part of your site or that they don’t feel comfortable putting their credit card information into your site then you need to take another look at your design. Consult with more than your designer too. Ask prospective users.
There are plenty of software tools that can help you test different areas of your site as well. For example, heat mapping apps can help show where visitors are clicking and scrolling. Google Analytics is another great tool that helps you track some of the more traditional website metrics like conversion, time on site, page views, single-page bounce rate, and so much more. As these metrics continue to pour in, designers can work to make tweaks for optimizing user interaction.
But, it’s not just that. Simplicity is a necessity when catering to an increasingly mobilized population. Everything is done mobile. Responsive web design enables a site to adapt automatically to whatever device is being used to access content. This is good news for smartphone and tablet users. Responsive design also saves the designer from the need to create multiple designs of a single site.
The web design principles should all remain user-focused. Good web design takes patience and an understanding of the many layers of variables that impact the design of a site. That way, you understand the changes that are truly necessary for optimal user interaction. After all, users are the ones who end up paying the bills.