Web Design: How to Balance Good Looks with Usability
When it comes to web design, there are two major factors to consider; usability and style.
There are hundreds of websites with fancy links, animations, and heaps of style and colour. Many people use these techniques to make their website unique and recognizable, but too much gadgetry can make a website difficult to use.
If the user is confused or annoyed by the fiddling graphics, they’re going to leave. Other designs have the opposite problem; they’re too simple. These websites are perfectly usable, but look (at best) dull and so put users off. That’s why it’s crucial to get that balance of style and functionality just right.
1. Is Your Design Compatible with Mobile Devices?
Over the past few years, mobile browsing has exploded and now accounts for 20% of all web traffic. Mobile phones are a major internet platform. When targeting mobile users, it is more important than ever to ensure the website is easy to use. Users are usually looking for something specific when they’re on the go. Website designers should know the audience inside out, be aware of what they’re looking for and ensure they can access it quickly and easily.
In 2002, the Consumer Electronics Association discovered that simplicity and ease of use was the most important factor when it came to new technology. Incorporate a ‘less is more’ approach; by using fewer links there is a higher chance the user will select one of your options.
2. Is Your Content Interesting and Relevant?
This may sound straightforward, but so many companies upload heaps of content onto one page. The result is large chunks of daunting text which put many users off.
Some websites feature content with far too much waffle. Creative and compelling copy writing is all well and good, but it’s important must remain firmly within the appropriate topic, know the target audience, and ensure all content is easy to follow and straight to the point.
Make all pages aesthetically pleasing and break content up with sub-headings, bullet points and images.
3. Use Images Effectively
Images are ideal for maintaining viewer interest and making the page visually appealing. Try to avoid using graphics and flash animations with large file sizes, as these can slow the site down. Whilst images and animations should be eye-catching, it’s important not to use graphics which are too bright. The dancing tortoise may be unique and witty at first, but it could potentially become annoying and drive users away.
Images work beautifully when used as a navigation tool. Relevant images will guide users around the site and add value to the brand. Text links should also be clear and eye-catching; this can be done by highlighting the text or changing the background colour when a user scrolls over it.
Simple and Stylish Wins the Race
Try to avoid using forms and other user text entries. A long form can be daunting and particularly difficult for mobile users. Drop down menus are perfect and enable users to select the appropriate option with ease.
Your website’s design should be both compelling and usable. Know what the audience is looking for and give it to them in just one click.
Author Bio: This article was writer by Hannah Keane on behalf of Open Water.
Open Water are a branding, marketing and web design company based in Kent. Find out more and take a look at their website.