Often when designers are creating new web pages, they rely on the design of the elements within a page. Banners have to look pleasant; navigation buttons have to be consistent and so on. But when these elements are placed together within a page, they create dynamics that attract user attention. The study on user attraction, or attentiveness, is a part of what is called usability – a guide on how to assess purposefulness of a user interface.
That is why you might notice that the most popular websites like Google and Facebook have minimalistic designs and there is a good reason for such approach.
Less Is More
There is a common saying amongst designers and developers alike – Keep It Simple and stupid. A webpage that sells shampoos to customers should only have the necessary webpages to sell that particular product and not anything else. Users don’t need to know the size of the bottle or even what colour of the shampoo would be.
When things are kept simple, users get to do tasks quickly and when they do, they will appreciate and come back to your website again.
There is a popular research subject called Cognitive Psychology that a lot of designers are paying attention to. It involves studying how humans perceive things around them and assess how long can we pay attention to a particular detail.
Gestalt Laws are a set of rules that define how we group objects together; take a look at these example diagrams.
See how you tend to ‘group’ a particular pattern and arrangement of items within that diagram? Designers now take advantage of these Gestalt Laws by applying them in their websites during the design phase. It might seem obvious, but that is why navigation bars are always a straight line and grouped items get our first attention.
I’ll be coming up with another article explaining Cognitive Psychology in detail, so stay tuned.
Users Are Highly Critical, Even If We Don’t Realise It
Most designers often think of designing the best looking websites, because of course, that’s what they do. But good designers are able to look at a website design not from a designers point of view, but from the user’s point of view. This is because users are often critical about any webpages they visit.
A website would look incredibly unreliable once they detect spelling errors or links that are broken. Why should a website promote the designer at the bottom of every page when that is not what they are looking for? These errors are subtle, yet they provide the most impact subconsciously when users are browsing the Internet.
The bottom line for a good design is always simplicity and a lot of common sense. Being able to think like the user and not the designer would give you the biggest advantage in designing not only purposeful websites but pleasing looking ones.