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.