User Experience in Web Design
Web design tips for the uninitiated
A web viewer’s user experience, or UX, seems to me to be the most overlooked and underutilized practice today. With all kinds of DIY websites out there, suddenly everyone is a web developer. Granted, the website builder tools on most hosting platforms and sites like Wix make creating a site in just a few minutes pretty impressive. The unfortunate side effect is that we now we seem to be overrun with, quite simply, bad UX. One can argue that the tools available are very user-friendly and can make web design a whole lot less technical and theoretically “stunning”, but it’s we who have to look at these things if we happen to. So as a public service to all of us viewers, here are some tips to save us from self-styled web designers.
The number one reason for bad UX is verbosity
I see it all the time, even from my peers. Mark Twain once wrote “Brevity is the soul of wit”; I am going to adopt it to our century (and web design) to write “Brevity sells more”. Ad designers will tell you that it’s images, not text, that make good adverts. It’s the same, if not worse, on the web. People tend to scan pages and posts anyway, so as a rule let’s use 50% less text with 50% more images and graphics.
Stop with the giant pictures!
Images, people, need to be optimized for the web. Stop taking photos from your iPhone and putting them on a site without resizing them first. That pic of you from Burning Man, uploaded to your steampunk blog, straight from your phone, while convenient, is killing your page speed. Most probably don’t realize that images taken on an iPhone 6 Plus are HD with 8 Mb and are a giant 1080 by 1920px, which just bogs down your site, especially if someone is viewing mobile at a public wifi. There are apps that will allow you to resize an image, and are is also a setting on some of the CMS platforms (like WordPress) that allow you to set a default image size. So think smaller, like 300×300 px, and we won’t have to wait for the “spinning wheel of death” as often.
Get to the point and allow me to buy
So now everyone has an eCommerce site, too. Just get me to the buy button soon, ok? There have been eye-movement studies done, and people’s eyes tend to track in an “F” pattern while viewing sites. They start at top left, go a little to the right, then back down usually ending up bottom right. People are just trying to get to the pertinent information to decide to buy or not. You just need a small simple image of the item with straight-to-the-point information about the doodad you’re selling, then a “buy now” button. That’s it. You can, if it’s needed, make the whole listing a hyperlink to a detail page, for those who want to drill down on the specs. Save the words for the blog, where pontification is a best practice for SEO.
So with your help, let’s ask the newbie sites out there to keep it short, small, and easy.