We all love a beautiful site-design – one that’s not only easy on the eye, but intuitive to use. It is all about getting the balance right by blending form and functionality. But for some amateur website designers, their pursuit of fancy custom-built texts or custom page designs often seems to cloud the most crucial aim of web design: making the site easy for users to actually use.
Keep them coming back – and make them want to
Your site is for users. The entire purpose of your site is to draw user eyeballs. You want, first of all, to grab the attention and notice of web users, and secondly to convert their initial notice of and engagement with your site into sustained interest, more page views, and sales.
These simple facts might seem obvious. But they’re all too often the root cause of many a failed web design. Why? Because the purpose of a web design is to make sure your site can achieve these ends, not about how pretty or beautifully text-formatted it might be. You want users not only to come to your site, but also to want to stay there, and then want to come back. So, first and foremost, always keep the customer in mind – and make your site easy to navigate.
Make sure they can find what they’re looking for
If you’re a news website or blog, but they can’t find your top or most recent stories, then your readers are just going to be irritated and confused. If you’re a solar window company, but your entire front page is taken up by a massive picture of the sun and/or a dramatic 18-point caption about harnessing its energy, but your customers can’t find any actual pictures of your product, how it works to save them money, and other customer testimonials about your pricing plan, then they’re also not going to be very interested. Think about what the customer typically wants to find, and design your site with clear, easy-to-find links and tabs to adapt to that.
Don’t forget to consult with users – and employ their feedback
For a prime example of not listening to user feedback, take, for example, the doomed 2011 redesign of gawker media's websites.
Viewable in cached versions here and comparable to current layouts here, the new site design was vastly unlike their former news-feed format pre-2011, which put frequent readers off. The design was unintuitive, and hid all of the site's most recent stories. They didn't warn users they were rolling it out, or trial test it with small groups of users first. When the site was initially put up, there were many minor issues with its functionalities. And people who didn't like the site's format were simply told not to bother coming back. Even frequent commenters were put off.
The site did, however, eventually bounce back – a full year after the redesign was implemented, and in the wake of the implementation of several seemingly minor redesigns that made the site, and especially its comment function, far more user-friendly. And in 2013, they revised the site design yet again- reverting the site to look, strangely, much how it did before 2011.
As an already large media company with Internet presence and the ability to keep going on prior revenues, gawker.com’s redesign was initially rejected but lasted long enough to slowly begin to gain readers again. For a smaller company, the initial steep loss of traffic may well have proven fatal.
What makes users to leave your website - infographic
A good site has many crucial ingredients, but no one element – great content, an easy-to-use comment function, a system for frequent updates on a blog – will work without the other. A good website design is one which ties it all together, and that makes all the great things about your site even greater – because they’re easy to find. So, make your most sought-after content easy to find, along with making sure it’s good content. If you are not confident enough that this is something that you can achieve on your own, there are loads of digital marketing companies throughout the UK – whether you’re looking for professional website design in Norwich or London, there are lots to choose from. Just make sure you do you research into the company beforehand!
(image source: Intel Free Press) (infographic source: kissmetrics)