Universally Accepted Web Design Laws to Improve Usability
Good web design is not just about adding pretty pictures to the site. A designer understands how the human mind perceives visual information and works on those principles to achieve an easy-to-use website design which communicates the brand message effectively.
There are a few universally accepted design-laws which when applied to website design will make it appealing to its users. We have discussed 4 such design principles below
1. Gestalt Design Laws
Gestalt is a form of psychology based on cognitive behaviors. It basically explains how we perceive, process and piece together the various parts of a design. This principle, when applied properly in design, will help in creating a better user experience and improve conversions.
The 6 principles of the Gestalt theory are explained below:
Objects, when placed together in close proximity, is usually perceived or viewed as one object. Hence, the distance between the elements will determine if they are seen as a group or not.
You can improve your user usability by placing similar category elements close to each other so that the users can easily understand that these elements perform a similar function like the navigation menu or blog categories.
Visually similar elements are perceived as elements from the same category or group.
Using a similar design for all the elements in the same category will make it easier for users to understand that they function similarly even when they are not in proximity to each other. For e.g., if subscription boxes are placed at different areas of the site, creating similar-looking subscription boxes will still make it easy for the users to identify the function of it by viewing similar designs
When your eyes start following an element, it will travel through the direction of it until it lands on an object. A photo of a model gazing in a direction is used in many websites to focus on the call-to-action towards which the model is gazing
When we see incomplete images or shapes, our brain will fill in the blanks. This design principle is used to make visually interesting elements which are recognizable and common, as a part of website design.
Symmetrical arrangements are always pleasing to the brain. Bringing in symmetry to the design will improve user concentration and undivided focus. Including an asymmetrical call to action element in the symmetrical design will divert the focus of the readers towards it.
Grouping together objects that shows the same objective or directionality can be used just like the law of continuity to draw attention to the call to action or logo.
2. Hick’s Law:
Hick’s law, or the Hick–Hyman law, named after British and American psychologists William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman, describes the time it takes for a person to make a decision as a result of the possible choices he or she has: increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time logarithmically (source- Wikipedia).
In simple words, the more options you will provide to the users the lesser conversions you will receive because they will get confused and choose nothing. Increasing choices only will increase complexity and the amount of time they need to make a decision. By minimizing choices, you will make it a no-brainer to decide what to choose. A good landing page should only contain one featured image, descriptive text, and a single call-to-action button.
3. Fitt’s Law:
Fitts’s law is a predictive model of human movement primarily used in human-computer interaction and ergonomics. This scientific law predicts that the time required to rapidly move to a target area is a function of the ratio between the distance to the target and the width of the target (source: Wikipedia)
This law can be used to design a site where the visitors can click the call-to-action button faster by placing it in the screen’s most accessible area where usually the user’s eye falls and their mouse is already hovering.
Increasing the size of the button can help in improving conversions but making it too large can also decrease the usability of the screen. Similarly making the button bold can help but it should also go along with the webpage aesthetics. Changing the design often to test what works best for your site by using web analytics to analyze the conversion rates of the site is a brilliant way to maximize your revenues.
Fitt’s law also speaks about the distance between the target areas which means that if there are functions that need to be done sequentially, place it in close proximity of each other so that users do not need to move around the mouse much. This will improve the probability of conversions.
4. The Golden Ratio:
It is a mathematical ratio that seems to appear recurrently in beautiful things in nature as well as in other things that are seen as “Beautiful”. The “Golden Ratio” is a mathematical ratio of 1.618:1, and the number 1.618 is called “Phi “.
The famous painting of Mona Lisa follows the golden ratio and hence is aesthetically pleasing to most people.
When applied to design, it will result in compositions which will be the most aesthetically pleasing to the eyes.
Applying Phi to your website design will create a site which most people will find pleasing to look at. The Golden ration can be applied to the various aspects of designing a website like defining the layout dimensions which can be calculated as per the golden ratio to calculate the height of the site or the width of layout which consist of two columns.
The golden ratio can also be used to define the spacing between various elements which is more easily legible to the users. Content placement can also be decided by using this principle so that it is read more by the users.
A website to succeed needs to be aesthetically appealing as well as financially worthwhile. These science-backed principles will not just help in designing a more visually appealing and user-friendly website but also guide the users’ attention towards the call to action which will improve conversion rates drastically bringing you one step closer to your business goals.
Website designing is more than creating something beautiful and remarkable. It is more about functionality that melds into aesthetics. A great website usually has many professionals working on different aspects till it is perfect. Therefore, designing any site takes time, perseverance and resources. If you are in a time-crunch, chances are you will end up with a slightly over-stuffed, over-designed site that screams for rescue.
Website designs have to be visually pleasing to the target group, but they also need to be pleasing to the crawlers too. Only a few website designers keep search engine optimization and user experience in mind, while they are designing new websites. These contribute to some of the most significant mistakes in site design.
Here are a five design mistakes you must avoid today:
It is the first fatal flaw of any website. Most of the sites we see today are either too gaudy or too cluttered. Sadly, neither can make up for a good and functional website that can offer a remarkable user experience. UX is the only thing you need to worry about while designing the basics including background, layout, color coordination, and navigation options. You are developing your site for the people. The design and options must appeal to the people. You should not cram too many features that do not have a purpose. You need to keep it simple and stay away from all distracting elements.
A great way to achieve this is by smartly utilizing the whitespace or negative space on the page. The area of the page that is “empty” makes up the negative space you can find the graphic elements, texts, and images. Whitespace balances out the content, limits distractions, and helps in guiding visitors to the right content.
Not appealing to the right users
While designing people forget to target their specific users. If you are targeting new mothers or soon-to-be mothers, you might want to keep a baby related theme. Usually, powder blue and baby pink colors go well with these simple yet cutesy themes. If you are targeting automobile lovers, you might want to use logos of famous automobile manufacturers and other relevant themes.
Research shows that color, images, layout and design features can easily attract or repel a user. Your buyer persona likely has their own preferences and dislikes. You need to research their buying habits before you can confidently usher them in for a buy.
Non-functional design elements
Your website should not have too many frills. Unusable design elements on the site may contribute to the looks of your site, but they will surely add to the weight as well. When designing a new site, you need to think about its usability and functionality. Design and technicality should play into each other to help conversion rates. Each link must be swift, and each CTA must be in plain sight. Amazon puts forth a great example of minimal, functional and user-friendly website design that is fast and easy to use.
No one has the time to sit and solve the mystery of your sit. You need to give visitors clear answers to their queries. If they are looking for a particular product your inventory holds, you need to provide them with a way to find it. Include live searches, galleries, filtering options and lots of FAQs to help your potential customer make a purchase.
Lay out your entire website content clearly and visibly. Each visual element should serve as a clue to what is important and what actions the user can take next. Pay more attention to the visual hierarchy of design, and you will find more visitors becoming buyers easily.
Not including enough visual cues
Your design elements should create new paths for conversions. For example – if you have a new product on discount, you can try posting an image of the same with the offer details and an exciting catch line on the header image slider. Design elements need to be smart cues that guide user attention right where it needs to be. Do not forget to couple these elements with the right CTAs to aid your conversion rate.
The ideal way to convey the purpose of your business and your site is to find the perfect content to image balance. You need to pay more attention to what your customer wants. Conduct surveys, follow your target groups on social media and find out what they are saying about you. Once you understand their needs and desires correctly, you will find it much easier to find designs, colors, and content that resonates with your target groups.
Over the years WordPress has claimed quite a few domains as its own and it includes digital signage. Digital signage is not quite as new, but the concept gaining momentum only a couple of years ago. Digital signage is an extremely flexible medium that allows room for interactive content including video advertisement films, images and text messages.
Digital signage has become the forte of hospitals, educational institutions and transport terminuses who want to keep their clients/students informed and entertained. Such a dynamic media requires a dynamic platform to support the templates and contents to be displayed on the digital boards.
Most digital signage companies and designers go for WordPress to create websites for their companies. WordPress itself is extremely dynamic and is an open-source platform. This means, it is extremely pliable towards changes and its themes can be customized according to individual needs. But before we get into the depths of technicalities, let us give you a whiff of the design trends that will keep your WordPress digital signage website looking fresh and attractive like a spring daisy.
Just because WordPress has the highest market share does not mean it only has responsive themes. It has quite a few “useless” and frigid themes that are no good for professional use. So before choosing your theme and investing on design make sure that your theme is 100% responsive and retina-ready as well. You should be able to work the theme on mobile devices as well as desktops.
To make your website visually appealing you need to follow the current design trends. To be on the safer side you can steer clear of brutalist website designs as those are extremely exclusive and most people don’t find them “pretty” to look at. Use negative space very cleverly and pay attention to the inclusion of white space. It will make your website look more professional and less cluttered.Focus on the fonts
What would you think if your last blood work report came in Comic Sans? There are millions of fonts out there for a reason. A font is all it takes to turn a love letter to a creepy threat. It is not the 90s and thankfully WordPress gives you about a few hundred fonts to choose from (thankfully). The ideal font should highlight the content and not take attention away from it!
Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it! Every website experiences breaks or downtime. But how you convey that to your users makes all the difference. You can use something as fun as the Google T.rex or simply use a basket of kittens as long as it keeps your customers coming back. Remember, anything will look better than a default server error on a stark white page.
These are some basic design advice that all designers must remember while designing their basic WordPress website for digital signage businesses to make them attractive, happy and precise.
Author Bio: Charlie Brown is a professional website designer and a blogger who likes to stay in touch with trend. Currently, he is working with https://www.dopublicity.com/ to define website trends that are best suited for digital signage businesses and advertisement firms.