Help your clients catch up to the digital revolution in the live design tutorial “Are We Approaching Digital All Wrong?” on July 31, 2014 at 1pm ET. Web design expert Paul Boag explores the ways designers are approaching digital design and how we can revise that approach for the better.
“A bad website is like a grumpy salesperson.” – Jakob Nielsen
We all know a good web design when we see it, but what makes a bad web design? What contributes to general web design grumpiness (per Nielsen’s quote above)?
With this in mind, I decided to explore a few common web design mistakes to get a better idea of what we’re looking for when we seek to create an excellent user-centered design experience.
photo from Shutterstock
3 Common Web Design Mistakes & How to Avoid Them
Mistake #1: Information vacuum
Remember Nielsen’s grumpy salesperson? He’s not interested in telling you which aisle the peanut butter is on. She’s not going to help you compare the specifications of two different laptop brands. She shrugs you off and provides no helpful information, and you take your business elsewhere. If your website begrudgingly provides information to your users—or worse, provides no information at all, your website will not succeed.
Solution: Immediacy and visibility
Make sure everything your user needs to know to use and understand your site is “above the fold” and immediately visible. A person from any demographic should be able to figure out what your website is about in 4 seconds or less. Those seconds are precious; they mean the difference between a bounce and a returning visitor, so make sure your website’s purpose is front and center.
Mistake #2: Information overload
This is the opposite of the grumpy salesperson—it’s three overzealous salespeople swarming you as you attempt to select an unbruised apple in the supermarket. If your website is crammed with text from top to bottom, no one will be able to read the novel you’ve written explaining the site. Plus, visitors are often overwhelmed by a deluge of information and will immediately navigate away if they’re not immediately roped in.
Solution: Concision and clarity
Make sure you consolidate your information into only the most fundamental text necessary to get the user engaged—while providing enough information, of course. If you want to write more, try listing all of the information you think it absolutely crucial to include from the start, and then pare it down. And pare it down again. Work on your copywriting skills to ensure that your website content is fully optimized and user-friendly. Can you say that with an image instead of text? Go for it! Make sure your wording is concise and easy to understand for your target audience.
Mistake #3: Mystery Meat Navigation
Coined by author and web designer Vincent Flanders, the term Mystery Meat Navigation (MMN) refers to user interfaces that are unnecessarily difficult to use because the navigation is unclear, or hyperlinks are difficult to find. Avoid MMN like the plague.
Your users are not Christopher Columbus crossing the Atlantic in search of the East Indies; the Americas aren’t an acceptable alternative. Redundant links, links in a confusing order and vaguely-worded link text frequently cause navigation failure.
Solution: Provide direction
Fortunately, cartography has progressed, meaning that you can map out your web content quickly and easily. A good, user-centered web design allows visitors to explore at their leisure without ending up on the wrong continent—metaphorically speaking.
UX design strategies such as wireframing not only ensure a clean and easily-navigable look, but these strategies can also help you troubleshoot before you’ve built the website so you don’t have to focus on structural maintenance as the design progresses.
User-centered design is intended to ensure an optimum experience for each visitor. Everything be labeled clearly and flow logically. According to UX design principles, websites should be attractive and—more importantly—easy to use.
Want more? Read 3 more common web design mistakes over at PrintMag.com.
Looking for a more overarching examination of web design practices? Web design expert Paul Boag explores the ways designers are approaching digital design and how we can revise that approach in his live design tutorial, “Are We Approaching Digital All Wrong?” on July 31, 2014 at 1pm ET. If you’re frustrated by working with clients and companies that are horribly antiquated and inappropriate for the digital world, you’ll learn ways to overcome those issues in this one-hour webinar. Register here.