What Makes an Effective Website Design: 7 Essential Elements to Remember

April 6, 2022

Effective web design is a critical piece in the success of any business website: call center Ecommerce websites, portfolio websites, brand landing pages, and more. Your website’s visual appeal can evoke feelings of trust, security, and authority in your potential clients. And you risk losing potential customers if it’s slow, hard to navigate, or read.

The majority of customers today want nothing to do with poor-quality websites. In fact, 40% of consumers will leave your website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

The best web designs combine beauty and aesthetics with functionality and optimization. This unique combo is the only way to meet designated QA metrics.

Below are seven essential elements to include in an effective web design.

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White Space

Effective web designs are usually clean, accessible, and simple. The element responsible for a clean website look is white space. White space refers to the blank area of space between content on your website.

White spacing in between buttons and texts can make each element stand out. Deliberate white spacing can also increase the feeling of importance attached to an element.

For example, white spacing around a CTA button can create a natural focal point that draws the user’s eyes. It’s a little detail that can make your site more user-friendly.

Consistency in spacing is another point to consider. Navigational elements on your website should incorporate white spacing consistency. We also recommend using grid-based layouts to keep things looking clean and balanced on all web pages.

Layout and Visual Appearance

Another component of a great website design that requires attention is the overall look. This broad term describes the reaction you want first-time visitors to have about your website.

Your website’s visual appearance and layout are key to wowing your audience when the page loads. These first impressions are crucial to the eventual opinion a prospective customer will form about your brand.

You want your website to evoke thoughts of adjectives like clean, intuitive, familiar. White spacing is one of the elements that can make that happen. We also encourage using margins to improve your website’s visuals and achieve a balanced web design.

Your choice of imagery also determines your website’s visual appearance. Be deliberate about your choice of graphics, photographs, and icons. These images should provide complementary information for your text and be of the highest quality.

The layout is at the intersection of the customer experience vs. customer journey debate. And, as far as layout goes, a grid style is best. But you should also place each piece of the design with a visual hierarchy in mind.

Place each element in a manner that directs the visitor’s gaze to where you want it. Users will term your website as intuitive and accessible when it has a natural flow.

Navigation

Your web page’s navigation isn’t the place to get creative. The most effective web design is one with simple, functional navigational elements. Avoid the user-accessibility pitfalls of complicated hover effects and multi-tiered sub-navigation menus.

Navigational elements should exist in your website’s body, header, and footer. And they should work to direct users to the info they want quickly.

The first major decision is whether to use the “hamburger” menu style. The hamburger menu has three parallel lines which users can click to access a navigational drop-down. It offers a great way to save space. But the hamburger menu also hides information from visitors.

Effective navigation encompasses elements other than your web page’s header menu. We recommend using directional arrows for long, one-page designs to guide visitors through each section. Your website’s page experience ratings will also benefit from a “Back to the Top” button.

Finally, don’t underestimate the navigational importance of the web page’s footer. Visitors to a website tend to scroll to the end of a web page, especially when the layout is clean and attractive.

A website visitor scrolling to the end of your web page indicates significant interest. They’ll need somewhere else to go, and the presence of navigational elements can guide them. For instance, say the website is for a SaaS company. The footer can be a great place to include a sign-up button. Or it can include a link to a blog titled “What is a SaaS Company?”

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Color Scheme

Color is still an essential part of what makes an effective website design. Your choice of color palette signals your brand to the visitor. It can also inform trust and authority.

Consider trending industry perspectives alongside your brand identity before deciding on a color scheme for your website. You should also pay special attention to your target demographics and audience. The main question to answer here is — what color appeals to my target audience?

For instance, accountancy and law firms should opt for deep green or blue hues, as these signal professionalism. Surprisingly, a photographer can use black and white images to portray the true vibrancy of their work.

Children under age six will love bright versions of primary colors. Conversely, teens and adults want to see dark, sophisticated color schemes. In the same vein, parents and guardians will enjoy soft yellow, blue and pink color schemes.

The dominant color in your scheme will influence the rest of the visual palette for your web design. Thanks to visual distinction, complementary colors on the opposite side of the color wheel will guide your visitor’s gaze. And you can also use them to ensure visitors focus on particular buttons or content elements.

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Typography

Just like with the color scheme, it’s essential to consider your target audience and industry trends before deciding on a font. Your website’s typography will determine the tone in which visitors receive any content on it.

Serif fonts are best for formal businesses and brands like law firms. You can add a small twist by using distinguished serif fonts (those with the extra bits on each letter). Conversely, a photographer will benefit from light, airy typography that eludes good vibes, comfort, and creativity.

The average visitor to your website has seen Times New Roman and Arial one too many times. Use a different font for your typography without going past the borders of normalcy.

After settling on the main font, choose a complementary one for accents and headings on your web page. Avoid the temptation of selecting unnecessary sizes for your headings or going beyond three different typefaces.

An effective website design offers a contrast between site text and background color. Generally, you can only achieve contrast when you pair light colors with dark tones.

Finally, every piece of text on your website design must be completely readable. Fulfilling this readability requirement means body copy must be 16 pixels at the very least.

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Optimize for Mobile

Mobile phones are responsible for 50% of global web traffic. Professionals worldwide include mobile phones in their essential remote work tech stack.

In fact, the 4th quarter of 2021 saw mobile traffic (excluding tablets) account for 54.4% of worldwide web traffic.

These metrics measure the quality of user experience a website delivers to visitors. The higher your site’s performance, especially on mobile, the higher it’s likely to rank.

The majority of WordPress templates and themes come equipped with provisions for mobile traffic. But if you’re designing a custom look for a website, you’ll need to incorporate elements for mobile traffic.

You have two options to ensure mobile accessibility in the second scenario above. You can either choose to design a responsive web page template that adapts to mobile screen sizes, or you can design a unique mobile-only version of your web page that activates when non-desktop visitors access the site.

Content

Interior designers don’t stop after painting the walls in your house. Instead, they start to think about the decor pieces.

Similarly, an effective website design isn’t complete without content. Even after selecting the layout, typefaces, color schemes, and icons, you still have to think about content. More specifically, you have to assess how it interacts with your design.

Visitors to your website need information quickly. Say your brand offers work communication products and services.

Visitors to your site will likely be asking themselves whether your brand is trustworthy and capable of delivering features like phone status. Your website content offers a platform to answer these questions.

We recommend using headings to organize sections and make it easy for the reader to tell what information is on offer. Similarly, avoid long, rambling paragraphs. Instead, break up your text with headings, display text, and lists.

Content efficiency is important, as extra words can dull your brand message and selling points. Learning to say more with fewer words is a key sales communication skill. And with the short attention span of today’s internet users, short, easy-to-digest content is best. Evaluate each word from your readers’ perspective: Is this word relevant?

Your content strategy should also include keyword optimization. Incorporate keywords your audience is likely going to be searching for in your content. Doing so will boost your chances of ranking on Google result pages.

The last thing to consider is the location of your content. You can look past your homepage or blog page. Ensure your “Contact Us” and “About Us” pages are home to consistent messages that convey the brand identity.

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Your Blueprint to an Effective Website Design

Above, we’ve covered seven elements that make up a great web design. Pay attention to them, and you’re well on your way to impressing the entity that matters — the eventual users.

Bio:

Jenna Bunnell – Senior Manager, Content Marketing, Dialpad

Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system that provides phone call transcription and valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Check out her LinkedIn profile. She has also written content for CrankWheel and AWeber.

Do follow our LinkedIn page for updates: [ Myraah IO on LinkedIn ]

Uniting Your Website Elements to Enhance User Interface

March 25, 2022

Imagine you are eating this. When your friend asks you what you’re eating, you wouldn’t say “I am eating bread, pepperoni, cheese”, instead of “I am eating a pizza”!

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This is because you have grouped different ingredients namely cheese, bread, pepperoni and have unified them together to form a pizza. People consider these elements as a group, that is usually caused by the subconscious connections humans make and establish a strong relationship between the elements.

Unity holds the design structure together, both visually and conceptually. It adds organisation and eases the user’s journey on the website as they don’t have to decode every element individually. Hence, indirectly, it helps to convey the prime message out and allows the user to only and only focus on that while interacting with the webpage.

It is an interesting concept as well as an important one to be applied in website designing. If we were to look at the definition of Unity, it is “the state of forming a complete and pleasing whole.” It also helps to create a consistent brand identity for the site or the product. It drives a path to connection between the elements so that the users have an easy time progressing between the pages of the website.

Legos implicitly demonstrate the concept of unity. If you notice, by itself, a lego piece may not mean much but when it is combined with other pieces, it forms into a universal whole and creates a unique identity. Similarly, for web design, each element, paragraph, image, navigation, header, footer, logo alone may not be meaningful but when combined together in the appropriate way, they can create a powerful tool.

There are many factors that contribute to a perception of unity within the website design. Some of these are:

1. Colour

Colour is a great way of forming a connection between elements and objects. If you notice, almost everything sticks to a colour scheme since it helps to facilitate a relationship, especially when used in connection with a product. For example, Coca Cola primarily uses red and white colour in their products. Therefore, while using the product, we instantly link the webpage colour with the product colour that further facilitates unity.

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Or how Apple maintains consistency and sticks to silver, white and grey colour in their products as well as in their digital presence.

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Unity by leveraging colour can also be used by just consistently utilising a defined colour scheme in the design. Inconsistency may cease the flow of user experience as visual links will be missing.

2. Repetition

Recurring elements in a design that look identical forms a connection and creates familiarity within the design and makes the user think “hey, I have seen that before!”. The users don’t have to reprocess and decode the particular page of the website again.

Branding a website by using a similar colour scheme, fonts, styles, borders and typography would help to maintain unity among their design. For example:

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In the design above, all the sections of the page follow a different colour scheme. The top most section in yellow seems to communicate important information for the users and stands out because of its uniqueness from the colour palette. The important content has also been bolded to draw attention. The font style of the logo differs from the other content. The navigation bar also has adequate whitespace. The colour scheme of purple and white has been repeated several times and used effectively in the design.

3. Consistency

Consistency is the key to unity. A soccer team would not go for their match with different coloured jerseys. Instead, they are united as a team with the same colour jersey that represents their brand.

Consistency is achieved by keeping the style of similar elements alike and related to the same colour. When unity is achieved elements would not compete for attention. The theme and the prime message will be communicated more clearly and in greater depth. The users will experience a greater sense of completeness in your composition.

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4. Alignment

By keeping a consistent alignment, designers can create a visual unity within a design. Having a bunch of paragraphs in the same alignment leads them to be perceived as one part of an article and not different bits of text thrown together. This makes it look organised and cleanly positioned. Multiple alignments on the design would require more effort to create as well as perceive a connection.

As limiting as adding grids to the design may feel, it offers a solid foundation to align website elements onto a single grid. For example:

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Notice how by following a simple three column grid turns the page full of content into a neatly designed easily perceivable well aligned page that feels unified?

5. Proximity

Proximity is simply how close elements are to each other. Creating a sense of unity with proximity is advantageous because grouping elements together communicates that all these elements belong together in the same box.

For example, just look down at the keys of your keyboard. You’ll notice that you have a group of keys clustered together that serve a similar function. By grouping these keys that are related to each other, we can ease and enhance the user experience.

As we come to apply this to website design, it is not too different. The closer the elements are placed, the stronger the relationship is between them that gives a sense of unity. Let’s understand this with an example:

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Conclusion

Unity gives a sense of connectedness and togetherness to website elements. To achieve this style, designers should consider looking at the design as a whole. While using the product, consumers tend to instantly link the commodity and webpage colour scheme that facilitates unity. By repeating the style, typography, colour and other elements throughout the page and making it look identical forms connection and facilitates unity.

By visually uniting the elements of a webpage, the design gets more understandable and perceivable. This visual unity can be created by aligning the website elements. Additionally, designers could also group elements together and near each other in proximity to establish unity. Taking a comprehensive approach helps to create a user-specific website, maintain the unity of style and make it look truly integral and professional.

Incorporating Visual Distinction to Accomplish User Goals

November 18, 2021

Through evolution, we have developed an incredibly sophisticated system of visual and cognitive processing. We can identify objects or elements in fractions of a second and possess superior pattern processing capabilities. These traits have proven valuable for survival and affect how we perceive and process the world around us. They also impact how we encode information in our memory and therefore our ability to recall or recognize items and events.

When it comes to digital interfaces, it was found that contrasting elements have the tendency to draw our attention faster. A primary challenge for a designer is to manage what users will focus on in an interface while supporting them in achieving their goals.

In the previous article we explored ways to grab a user’s attention and enhance user experience.

We will mainly use the following frameworks to understand and explore ways to enhance user’s attention:

  • The Von Restorff Effect
  • Selective Attention
  • Tunnel Vision

  • Banner Blindness

Von Restorff Effect

When a designer says to a client, “Let’s do something different and creative, something that is out of the box”. The client may be immediately faced with questions like, “Will it work? Why deviate from the usual ones, the ones that are not common in the market?” It might just sound like a leap in the dark to the client. But guess what, the von Restorff effect is evidence that doing something different from the established norm, does work in aiding memorability.

In 1933, Hedwig von Restorff, a German psychiatrist conducted a memory experiment. She gave her participants a list of similar but distinct objects. Out of all the objects, one object on the list was in a unique colour. When the participants were asked to recall the list after a brief period of time, the uniquely coloured object’s recall rate was 8 times higher than the rest. She deduced that when multiple homogenous stimuli are presented, the one that differs from the rest is more likely to be retained.

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Simply put, the von Restorff effect elucidates that in a group of similar elements, the one that looks different from the rest is most likely to be remembered.

This is also called the isolation effect: the distinctive feature of the element isolates it from others. According to neuroscientists, our mind and brain have a tendency to remember things that are different. They search for visual discrepancies and lookout to break habits. Some of the ways to make an element stand out are by altering their size, colour, spacing, shape, highlighting, underlining or making the element bold or italic.

Wondering how we can harness this law to effectively design web pages that would enhance user experience and lead to higher engagement? The von Restorff effect has been widely used in almost every website and services, some of which make use of it more effectively than others. The requirement to make every single element and content visually distinct is fundamental in design. When this principle is used sparingly and strategically, the design not only helps draw the user’s attention but also directs them to the most valuable information. Some of the common examples are:

1. Pricing Plan chart

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In the example above, the design draws the user’s attention to the most popular offering (most likely the profitable one too), the Pro pricing plan. By isolating one choice in the field, the designers help improve recall of the most desirable product offering, and ultimately lead to higher conversion rate since the users will rush for the highlighted plan instead of spending more time exploring the alternatives.

The designer could also isolate the pricing plan by increasing its size and changing its colour. In the example given below, the designer has made use of the colour red which is known to evoke feelings of alertness and attention.

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2. Call to Action

Ever observed why Buy now and Sign up buttons stand out the most on any webpage? The button is designed to draw the users’ attention and perform the click action. The designers want the users to differentiate between the simple buttons and call to action buttons, and make it as obvious and unobstructed as possible. By simply changing the font, colour, and shape of the button, designers attempt to steer the user’s attention. The designers are also likely to make cancel and logout buttons much smaller than Call to Action (CTA) buttons. This way the user grabs another product while finding their way out.

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3. Incoming Notifications

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The von Restroff effect can also be observed when alerting users to incoming notifications. From the example stated above, the users can clearly distinguish which app requires their immediate attention and action.

4. News Websites

This effect is also commonly used in news websites to place emphasis on featured content to make a specific content stand out against other headlines and ads. The user’s attention is drawn by usage of scale to create contrast between the featured content and adjacent content. The focus is drawn on the featured headlines that break out the implied columns of content. For example:

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This principle is not only limited to website designing but also helps to inflate sales and effectively marketing the product. One of the prime examples of this is when Apple launched their iPod in 2001. The identifying characteristic of this product was the colour. You knew who had an iPod because of the white earphones. By leveraging this simple and trivial idea, Apple managed to create differentiation. When everyone had black earphones, they opted to take the opposite path, which made them stand out.

Selective Attention

Humans live in an overstimulating world full of distractions. Everyday, at any given moment, humans are subject to a plethora of sensory information with multiple signals competing for their attention. Our ability to focus on things around us is limited in terms of capacity and duration, hence we only focus on relevant information. This phenomenon is known as selective attention.

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Selective Attention refers to the ability to select from many objects and focus on one particular object or stimuli in the design or web page, and filtering out other distractions. Attention being a limited resource, this type of filtering allows us to overlook unimportant elements and focus on what really matters. The user may tend to stay focused only on the part of the webpage that seems relevant and meets their goal. This concept is evident from the presence of Tunnel Vision and Banner Blindness in digital interface.

Tunnel Vision

When the brain adapts to selectively attend to the web page content due to cognitive overload, the human visual system acquires a tunnel vision, that is, the user focuses on a particular element and disregards the others.

In a research study conducted by Neilson and Norman (2012), users ignored the year at the top of the design and read the entire writeup before they found the year 2000. Hence, the strong tunnel vision prevented the users from noticing the year at the top of the design.

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Retrieved from Nielson and Norman (2012)

One way to prevent tunnel vision usability is by positioning related items close together. This makes the design more accessible and also helps the low-vision users who magnify the screen to perceive the information when it is in proximity.

Banner Blindness

It refers to the tendency of users to ignore elements that they perceive to be advertisements on a webpage. When we choose to selectively attend to content, we may omit the content that is not helpful and defeats our goal, for example, digital ads.

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Users may search for elements that would help them achieve their goal – especially design patterns such as search bars, navigation, links, or buttons; and would instinctively look for these items in common locations. They would also ignore legitimate content if it:

  • has an ad-like visual hierarchy, such as animation
  • are placed in close proximity to actual ads
  • has ad-specific placement like right-hand side of the page

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Therefore, it is vital to visually differentiate between content and an ad to minimise the possibility of it being inadvertently perceived as an ad by not placing them in the same section. This could be done by carefully choosing colours, background, and type of the content carefully. The designers must also be mindful of not mixing content and ads.

Key Takeaways:

The von Restorff effect is a powerful guideline for how to use contrast to direct people’s attention to the most relevant, impactful, and engaging content. It can help to inform our design decisions to lay emphasis on important call to action or relevant information by creating visual distinction, and help to ensure that users of the products and services are able to quickly identify what they need to achieve their goals.

Designers could also employ restraint when placing visual elements of the webpage to avoid mixing of content as well as to ensure salient items do not get mistakenly perceived as ads. Additionally, taking into consideration the positioning of related items, carefully choosing the colour, background and the type of content are other considerations that designers must follow.

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Rules to Arrange Elements on Website for Clarity

November 11, 2021

Digital world has become highly competitive. Users spend approximately 5.59 seconds looking at a website’s content. In 2.6 seconds, the user’s eyes land on the area of the website that most influences their first impression. Website designers have to not only create an effective design but also compete for user’s attention. How can we have our user’s undivided attention in the over stimulated digital world?

In this article I will walk you through several effective ways to grab your users’ attention and enhance user’s experience by:

  • Miller’s Law
  • Chunking
  • F-shape eye scanning pattern
  • Z-shape eye scanning pattern

1. MILLER’S LAW: ORIGINATION OF MAGICAL NUMBER 7

Ever wondered, when exposed to a long list of elements, you seem to remember only some of it? This is because humans cannot retain much information in their short-term memory. This essentially holds true when people are bombarded with multiple abstract or unusual pieces of information in rapid succession.

Short-term memory presents a special interest for website designers. To enhance the user experience and interaction, designers must minimise the user cognitive load and reduce distracting elements.

The human brain is not optimized for data memorization that web pages often demand. Many usability guidelines are dictated by cognitive limitations. One way to overcome this and provide a pleasant user experience is by utilising Miller’s law.

This law originates from a research paper published in 1956 by a cognitive psychologist Miller titled as ‘The Magical Number Seven Plus or Minus Two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information.’ The experiment purports that the number of elements a human mind can hold in working memory are 7 +- 2. Simply put, the human memory can typically hold five to nine strings of elements or words regardless of the amount of information in one stimulus or element.

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2. Chunking

One of the crucial findings from Miller’s experiment was that the quantity of the information does not affect the memory as much as the number of information carrying chunks being memorized do. The term ‘chunks’ refers to a collection of familiar pieces of information that have been grouped together and stored in a person’s memory.

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Miller’s experiment and his passion for memory span was not centred around the number 7, but on the concept of chunking and our ability to memorise information. Although there are factors that influence how many chunks a person can retain (familiarity with content, context, specific capacity), the key takeaway message is: short-term memory is limited, and the method of chunking helps us to retain information more effectively.

In the field of Website designing, chunking usually implies breaking content into small, distinct bits of information (chunks), in contrast to undifferentiated mass of atomic information items. When designers chunk content in a design, the content becomes easier to comprehend and remember.

Users can then effectively scan the content, identify the information that aligns with their goal, and utilise that content easily and quickly. By structuring the content into visually distinct units with clear hierarchy, designers align the content in accordance with how people evaluate and process web pages.

The simplest example of chunking can be found in how we separate debit card numbers by utilising the concept of chunking which would have otherwise been a long string of digits (significantly more than seven) hard to process and memorise.

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Another commonly observed example is while browsing the web. Users are often exposed to an inevitably dreaded ‘wall of text’ that entails content with lack of formatting or hierarchy and exceeds the appropriate line length. This content is more difficult to process as it increases the cognitive load and may result in lower user engagement with unpleasant user experience.

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When compared with the design alongside that has required formatting along with appropriate line lengths, the user experience is impacted drastically. The design is an improved version of the same content. Heading and subheading have been added to provide hierarchy, whitespace has been used wisely to break the content into processable sections, line length has been reduced to improve readability, keywords have been highlighted and underlined to provide contrast with the surrounding text.

This concept can also be leveraged to provide structure to information dense content. This not only makes the result more visually pleasing, but it also makes the content scannable. Users who are skimming the latest headlines can determine whether the article is worthy of their attention and can quickly scan through it.

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Although being a vital concept in website designing, only chunking the content does not enhance user experience. Neuroscientists have identified various eye scanning techniques after conducting decades of research that have been known to impact the engagement with content on WebPages. Eye tracking is a significant tool for website designing that shows what areas of a webpage are grabbing the user’s attention and areas that are being ignored. This also helps us to understand how the user searches and grasps content.

3. The F-Shape Eye Scanning Pattern

Nielsen and Norman’s (2006) eye tracking research has elucidated that users read web page content in an F-shaped pattern, that is:

  • Users first read the content in a horizontal movement, usually the first few lines on the upper part of the content area. This forms the F’s top line.
  • Next, the users move down the page and hunt for keywords or points of interest. Once found, they read across forming the second horizontal line of F. This usually covers a shorter area than the previous movement.
  • Finally, users attempt to scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement forming the F’s stem.

For example:

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This type of scanning technique is utilised for content heavy pages like blogs or articles. This pattern can be incorporated by enhancing the first two paragraphs by highlighting headers, bolding subheaders and including bullet points and keywords.

Heatmaps generated after conducting research indicated that:

  • The first two lines of the page receive more attention than other lines.
  • The first few words on the left-hand side of each line of the text receive more fixations than the latter.

Researches have also indicated that the users may fixate on more words and read towards right again, thus forming an E. Interestingly, a recent line of research indicates that content in right-to-left languages like Arabic, users tend to read content in flipped a F-shaped pattern.

4. Z-Shape Eye Scanning Pattern

Another evidence based eye scanning technique is Z-shape scanning pattern. This pattern is applicable in almost every web interface since it includes almost all core elements like brand, hierarchy, structure, and call to action. Z-pattern is ideal for interfaces where call to action is the main motive. This usually applies to web pages that are not content heavy and leverage whitespace effectively. This scanning arrangement mimics the route for the visual system to travel from left to right in a zigzag pattern:

Users first scan from top left to top right either because of the menu bar or the subconscious habit of reading from left to right. This creates the horizontal line of the alphabet Z.

When the eye reaches towards the end, it shoots down and moves towards left again, perhaps because of the subconscious reading habit, creating an imaginary diagonal line.

User then repeats the horizontal search in the lower part of the webpage, again forming the lower horizontal line of Z.

For example:

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When applied to web pages, the most important content can be placed along the top and bottom corners which visually connects them diagonally.

5. SUMMARY:

Grasping the user’s attention is an ever going battle a designer will face. Employing Miller’s law and applying the concept of chunking would not only help users to scan and memorize the content more easily but also increase engagement. Placing essential elements like call to action in the path of F-shape and Z-shape would also enhance the user experience and help users locate content effectively.

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Win the Attention Battle with Visual Saliency Map

October 21, 2021

Designers Fight for the User’s Attention

Whether it is in packaging of a product, a print ad or a button on a webpage, a designer always faces the challenge to get noticed and grab the attention of the ever busy users. Understanding why certain design features grab more attention than others is important. In this article, we will discuss the idea of visual attention and possible ways to achieve it.

How Humans Decide Where to Look

Our visual system is now one of the best-understood processes of the brain, and neuroscientists have made a lot of progress in modelling and understanding what captures our attention. One of the striking findings is that we humans are attracted to contrast. Our eyes are drawn to things that are different from their surroundings.

Look at the examples below.

our-eyes-are-drawn-towards-different

our-attention-is-drawn-to-things-which-are-different

It is not only the color contrast which makes something noticeable but also patterns. Look at the example below-

something-with-difference-draws-attention

How Our Brain Processes Visual Input

As the brain receives visual input through the eyes, it starts processing the input in two different ways:

The Bottom-Up Processing: The brain processes the raw visual elements such as colors, contours, shapes, contrasts, luminosity, movements, textures etc. It tries to decode the basic visual features before it can recognize what it actually is seeing. This processing is happening automatically, without any extra effort. Neuroscientists call this stage of visual processing as pre-attentive i.e., it occurs before we pay any focused attention to what we are looking at.

brain-first-decode-high-level-details-before-going-into-deep

The Top-Down Processing: Once the brain decodes the basic features, it begins to categorize what it is seeing based on memory. For example, it may categorize the visual input as human, animal, insect, face, car etc. As soon as this information is processed, we begin to understand what we are seeing.

Though our brain can perform the above processing effortlessly and seamlessly, our eyes are designed to capture detailed input one at a time. Our eyes have a small field of high-definition (HD) vision, which is surrounded by a large field of low-definition (LD) vision. When we look at any object or design, our eyes make a series of quick movements to fill in the details of what we are seeing.

how-eyes-see-things

How the Brain Prioritizes What to Look at First

Given the brain can process visual inputs of a thing one at a time, the brain needs a quick and automatic way to prioritize what to look at first – to make the process efficient. Our brain has evolved to prioritize the things that move and the things that are different from their surroundings.

Motion always draws our attention.

running-drawas-attention

The Visual Saliency Map

Given our brain needs to process a large number of inputs, in order to process these inputs efficiently, it first needs to produce a map to navigate through the sea of information – called visual saliency map. Saliency at a given location is determined primarily by how different this location is from its surroundings in color, orientation, motion, depth etc. This idea was first proposed by two neuroscientists- Christof Koch and Shimon Ullman, in the mid-1980s.

Our brain is continuously mapping the colors, shapes, shades, patterns etc. of our surroundings. These inputs then are passed on to our visual system that tells our eyes to focus on the area that is visually salient i.e. areas that look different from its surroundings – maybe because it is moving , has a contrasting color or appears brighter.

Items that are visually salient get noticed earlier, more often and for longer.

While movement is particularly attention-grabbing, in case of still visuals three features for saliency are most important: color, pattern and size. Other visual features can also affect saliency which includes: depth, shape, flicker and offset.

Designs and design elements can have high or low saliency, depending upon its surrounding context. For example, a bright red packaging will not pop out on the shelf which has many such packages surrounding it. Red may often be an eye-catching color but if you are just one of the many others – you are not distinctive or salient.

This explains why, using a design that is bright, moving or unusual doesn’t mean it will be salient or noticeable. The saliency depends upon the viewer’s saliency map.

Once we understand how the viewer is expected to map the design, we have a powerful tool in our arsenal. Let’s look at how we can apply this concept in website design.

Making Your Website Visually Salient

When people are making quick choices, or while they are somewhat distracted, making a visually salient design can increase the likelihood of getting their attention. The concept of saliency mapping can be used to design pages that gets the user to focus on things we want the user to look at.

A user’s visual entry point i.e; the point where the user will begin their browsing on the webpage – can be influenced by mapping the visual saliency of elements. For example, the navigation, or the key information can be made easier to find and focus, by making them more salient.

There are three ways to make a design element visually salient.

Colors: Bright, high luminescent and contrasting colors within design are more likely to make an element visually salient. In particular, more the edges of contrasting colors within the design, the more salient it is.

using-contrasting-colors-to-draw-attention-on-web-page

Size: Larger objects in a design are more likely to draw attention. It is also true for text/ fonts which are larger and bolder. Thinner and smaller fonts will be less salient compared to larger and thicker fonts.

using-size-to-draw-attention-web-design

Patterns: Patterns that stand out from their surroundings, shapes that are unique or areas of contrast where one shape overlaps with another are highly salient.

patterns-shapes-draw-attention

Also note that it is not the overall saliency of the design that counts, but also how wisely we use it in our design. A design with too many highly salient elements that are positioned away from each other could make a design confusing and complex. Focusing on the saliency of a couple of important elements is better than making the whole page salient.

Naturally our eyes gravitate towards the center of the screen. So making the element visually salient in the center can help deliver key information or help drive key action you want the user to take.

eyes-naturally-gravitate-towards-center

Design elements that create a sense of depth are also visually salient.

using-depth-to-grab-attention

Design elements that create frames are also visually salient. We are quite used to looking inside frames to find information.

using-frames-todraw-attention-web-design

Finally, there are natural elements that in general are considered visually salient. Faces of both humans and animals are visually salient, especially when they display an emotion.

face-can-naturally-draw-our-attention

In Summary: Our visual attention is guided by both bottom-up (the visual features of what we see) and the top-down (our memories, expectations and goals) processes. As our brain can process only one area in detail, our brain needs to prioritize what it should process first. To do it efficiently and automatically our brain produces visual saliency maps. Items or design elements that are visually salient get looked at first, for longer and are more likely to grab our attention.

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9 ways to make your Website design more appealing

October 14, 2021

In the previous article we explored the theory of fluency – which states that fluent designs are easy to process , hence improves user engagement. In this article we will explore nine practical ways to implement this theory.

Simply put we can make a design easy to process by simplifying a design and reducing redundant visual information or alternatively by using ways that our brain finds a particular image type easier to process.

1. Making use of familiar form but with intriguing details

Designs that are complex can be liked by a user if they convey a lot of information per design element i.e. designs that have high proportional density. Furthermore, designs which turn out to be easier to process than expected by the user are also liked by the user.

Putting these ideas together we can say that – the existence of a lot of details sets an expectation among users that it will be more difficult to process, yet its overall familiar easy-to-process form comes as a surprise to the user creating a positive experience.

design-with-intriguing-details

2. Clarity and Contrast

A contrasting subject and background can increase the processing fluency of a design. Research has shown that when shapes are viewed with a higher level of contrast to the background, people are more likely to find them attractive.

clarity-and-contrast-in-web-design

3. Self-Similar Patterns

These designs use underlying low Kolmogorov Complexity patterns for constructing the design. The overall design uses simple but repetitive patterns making it look naturally integrated and harmonious. The smaller elements of the pattern are similar to the whole. In other words, there is a pattern that repeats at different scales.

using-self-similar-pattern-in-web-design

4. The Fibonacci sequence

The Fibonacci sequence is a sequence of numbers or shapes in which the new element is the sum of the previous two elements.

For example- 1,1,2,3,5,8 …

the-fibonacci-sequence-inwebsite-design

5. The Golden Ratio

The golden ratio is a pair of lengths in which the difference between the long and the short length is the same as the difference between the total length and the long length.

the-golden-ratio-explained

golden-ratio-in-web-design

In the above design, the left part of the banner and the right part of the banner are in the ratio of 1.618, making it pleasing for human eyes.

6. The Rule of Thirds

Divide the available canvas with two equally spaced horizontal and vertical lines. The idea is to place the most important information at the intersection of these lines, at points A, B, C and D in the figure below.

the-rule-of-third

rule-of-third-in-web-design

Placing the most important information on the co-ordinates A, B, C or D makes the design convey the information with more clarity.

7. Symmetry

strong-weak-symmetry

Our brains can process symmetrical designs easily. Even infants as young as four months can identify symmetry. Research shows that people have a higher preference for vertical and horizontal symmetry compared to diagonal symmetry.

symmetry-in-web-design

8. Pseudo Neglect and our preference for left over right

Our brain has a tendency to pay more attention to visuals present in our left visual field than in the right. It is because signals from the right eye are sent to the left side of our brain (designed to understand languages and logic) and signals from the left eye are sent to the right side of the brain (designed to decode visuals).

Hence, designs in which images are placed to the left and words to the right look more appealing to the people.

images-to-the-left-text-to-the-right-web-design

Which bar looks darker?

whic-bar-is-darker

9. Perceptual subitizing and our preference for integrated visuals

Perceptual subitizing is our ability to instantly compute how many things are there in a design – how many individual elements make up a design without counting them one by one. This ability is linked to human’s hunter-gatherer past. The ability to instantly size up whether a group of predators or prey animals in a distance determined our ancestors’ survival. All they needed to know was whether there were one, two, three, four or many animals. Knowing the difference between seven or eight prey was not as critical as knowing the difference between one and three.

An average human being can instantly compute the count of elements in a design but only up to four.

A design with a minimal number of individual graphical regions that are positioned in an integrated way is easier for a user to process and decode compared to designs which have many unintegrated elements in it.

integration-of-elements-in-web-design

Here is a free tool to check visual vitals of your website.

Visual Mind AI

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How to make your website feel more intuitive?

October 7, 2021

This is an era of speed. New technologies such as SmartPhones, Internet, Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Computing have both quickened the pace of life and enabled wealth creation, efficiency and freedom.

Website designs too have started to reflect this modern, rational ethos. A great ‘cleaning’ has begun, in which the most intricate or baroque designs are getting replaced with cleaner, simpler-looking and intuitive versions.

While minimalism has been a strong trend in website design, there is always a counter-pressure on designers to include as much information as possible. Designers face a conundrum, whether to make their designs simple and easy to understand or more complex and detailed to make them more interesting and involving. Another related conundrum is whether designs should be intuitively familiar and expected or unfamiliar and disruptive.

This article is about ways to resolve these conundrums.

Our brain likes Novel ideas and designs, but only up to an extent.

Raymond Loewy, the father of industrial design proposed a design principle called MAYA : Most Advanced Yet Acceptable. It is the idea that the average consumer has expectations of what things should look like, which are developed over a period of time through exposure to products and services.

Humans are attracted to novelty; we get a small brain-buzz by seeing new things. This applies to the website design as well. Yet, if you push consumers far beyond what they are ready for, this can backfire. It’s about finding the right balance.

There are obviously many different aesthetic styles that appeal to different individual tastes at different times and places. But there is something timeless and universal about the appeal of minimalistic designs. Our brain has a natural liking for designs that are easy to process.

The brain is only a small part of our body mass, but it takes up a lot of energy. So, it has evolved to minimize the amount of energy it uses – optimizing its processing power.

Our brain works similar to a computer. When given too much to process, it becomes slow. While our non-conscious mind is continuously processing and sorting millions of bits of incoming sensory information, our conscious mind can only hold a few things in our awareness at a given time. In Psychology it is usually referred to as Cognitive load.

our-brain-keeps-records-of-complexity-of-info-it-processes

When people are browsing through websites, looking at Ads or a product, they don’t want to consciously think too hard. They search for a quick way to make a decision. People are particularly impatient online and will lean towards designs that give them quick, easy and intuitive routes to what they are seeking. Simple and easy to process designs are preferred over complex designs. Psychologists call this ‘Processing Fluency’.

Interestingly, we are largely unaware of our tendency to feel good about designs that are easy to process even though we can be aware of how easy or hard it feels to understand something. In the background our brain is monitoring how hard things are to process.

Eating up more space people’s cognitive load should be a sin for any designer. Understanding a page or task should be made as simple as possible. The art of making complex information easy to process with the use of clever and intuitive design will become increasingly important, especially online.

The mere exposure effect and our preference for familiarity

In general, we feel comfortable with things and people we know. We humans have evolved to live in small groups, and bonds and trust were built between those whose faces we were familiar with. We carry this preference while evaluating products and websites as well.

Psychologist Robert Zajonc, described this preference in his classic 1968 research paper as “the mere exposure effect “. In summary : People seem to like images/designs which they have been exposed to more often. This means that there is a non-conscious, non-rational mechanism in our brain that can lead us to like something completely independent of any logic. We humans are illogical and irrational creatures – more than what we believe to be.

mind-is-designed-to-process-familiar-info-fast

Images with faces of people we know are easy to process. However, it is now believed that it is not only exposure or familiarity per se that causes this preference. It is the fact that the more we see something, the easier it becomes to process. The processing fluency is what matters. The “Mere Exposure Effect “ is just a result of our inbuilt preference to optimize for processing fluency.

familiar-face-makes-processing-easier

How our brain decodes and processes a design

Laura Graf and Jan Landwehr have proposed a new model, ‘the pleasure & interest model of aesthetic liking’ or PIA in short. This model helps us understand; how we judge images or designs both consciously and unconsciously. Simply stated: This model proposes that whether we will like an image or design depends upon two things: First, whether we feel that it is easy to process and second, how we then (if we are interested enough) think about it.

When we look at a design, we categorize them as fluent or disfluent. If we feel unmotivated to put more effort into understanding it, we stop. However, if we begin to pay more attention – either the design triggers curiosity in us or we find it intellectually stimulating and worthy of exploration.

The important idea is that the default way that people judge a design is with a feeling of visual fluency. It is only if they become motivated to learn more, mental resources are allocated to explore it.

using-visual-imagery-to-convey-complex-info

Understanding visual fluency

Simple designs can convey a rich meaning using little graphical details. Such designs/images are considered fluent. In fact, deeper meaning can be conveyed with the simplest of shapes. For example, look at the image below; it explains herd immunity using simple shapes.

herd-immunity-illustrated

Fluency has two dimensions-

Perceptual: An image or design can be fluent because of its visual characteristics.

Conceptual: An image or design can be fluent because it conveys the meaning.

When put together, they define how people will feel about a particular design or image. Designs with higher levels of meaning can trump images that are merely simple. So for a minimalistic design to be effective, it should not be trivial but rather rich in information.

simplicity-is-ultimate-sophistication-da-vinci

The Fluency Matrix

Simple designs are not always interesting and complex designs are not always easy to process. The right combination of the two is what makes a design easy to process and interesting. One way to understand this is mapping a design’s surface complexity i.e. how much graphical elements and informational content it contains.

By mapping these on two axes we get the Fluency Matrix.

website-design-complexity-information-matrix

Let’s explore the four quadrants with examples.

LOW SURFACE COMPLEXITY + LOW INFORMATION CONTENT = ORDINARY

This type of design is simple to grasp but hardly conveys any meaning. There is nothing exciting about them and we simply find them ordinary

example-of-websites-with-low-surface-complexity-low-information-content

HIGH SURFACE COMPLEXITY + LOW INFORMATION CONTENT = HAPHAZARD

This type of design has a lot of graphical details, but no meaning or pattern behind them. Visually they are noisy and they appear random and effortful to process. We just find them confusing.

example-of-websites-with-high-surface-complexity-low-information-content

HIGH SURFACE COMPLEXITY + HIGH INFORMATION CONTENT = CONFUSING

This type of design conveys a lot of information. We find them hard to process and success of such a design depends on the motivation of the viewer. A user can get confused and lost.

example-of-websites-with-high-surface-complexity-high-information-content

LOW SURFACE COMPLEXITY + HIGH INFORMATION CONTENT = INTERESTING

This type of design is ideal. They are easy to visually decode and they look simple but are able to convey a lot of meaning. We find them interesting.

example-of-websites-with-low-surface-complexity-high-information-content

Novelty and complexity can lead to user engagement

Making designs simple is not always the only way to get users engaged. Evidence shows that sometimes users find complex or novel designs engaging. Novelty encompasses many pleasurable feelings. Yet novelty being the opposite of familiarity can make designs disfluent. So does novel designs get users engaged? What are the other factors that can lead to liking of novel designs?

One of the factors is that conceptual fluency is more important than perceptual fluency. Novel designs can be appreciated by viewers if it carries a lot of meaning that is easy to decode. If paying attention to such designs unlocks meaning, our hungry brain gets some cognitive snack.

If we expect something to be hard to understand, but if it is presented to us in a way that makes it easy to understand, we like it. The thing is that how complex we perceive a design depends upon our expectation of the same. Designs that are unexpectedly easy to process seem familiar to our brain. The connection between novelty and familiarity is defined by fluency; ease of processing.

People either prefer simpler than expected designs or designs that convey a large amount of information in a surprisingly minimalistic way.

Our brain is a pattern seeking machine – When it finds one it becomes easy to process

Look at the image below, which one do you find easy to process and remember? The left image doesn’t have a pattern hence it is difficult to remember compared to the right one. In the case of the right image, our brain doesn’t need to memorize all random placements of grid – it has a clear pattern.

repeteable-patterns-are-more-memorable

Our brain is always in search of a short-cut to understand the vast number of sensory inputs it gets. It stores generalized patterns from experience. Matching what we see to the general visual memory pattern helps our lazy brain save energy.

a-face-as-a-collection-of-geometric-patterns

In computer science the compressibility of visual patterns is measured as Kolmogorov Complexity (KC) . In theory an image could have a lot of visual details, but if it has order or repeatability, it will have low KC. Low KC designs are easy to process and hence are fluent.

lowering-website-complexity-by-using-geometric-patterns

Low complexity designs may look complex at first glance but they adhere to underlying regular patterns that are compressible. This makes them intriguing as our brain senses the patterned information they contain.

Making your website design fluent will make it beautiful & intuitive

Minimalistic design is about finding the simplest, least energy- consuming solution to conveying information or explaining a concept. Our brain is actively seeking to compress our models of the world down to simple rules. Like scientists and mathematicians, who find simple equations, which describe complex concepts elegantly beautiful.

Making your design fluent will make it likable and beautiful.

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Try Myraah AI Website Builder : A website builder designed to create fluent and beautiful design in a few clicks.

As we have now completed the first part of the article, let’s move on to a couple of UX design best practices.

How to design UX for your website? End to End Guide

September 23, 2021

User experience matters.

Users’ first impression of a website is critical. If they like it, they stay or click away within seconds. A surprisingly small number of design elements are essential for the success of the website.

In this article, we will start by understanding what a user journey means. Then, what do you think about it? After that, how to map it visually and possibly improve our first map? Finally, we will look at UX best practices for a website.

What is the customer journey?

Simply put, the customer journey is what a customer experiences throughout your website, right from landing on the website to completing the purchase and everything in-between.

what-is-customer-journey

How to map the customer journey of your website?

Let’s take an example of a hypothetical online store that sells t-shirts.

To understand the journey, let’s write down all the steps a user will go through while making a purchase.

list-of-things-a-user-does-on-your-website

Once we have a list, let’s evaluate every step and remove the ones that are not vital. So, for example; Do we need a user to sign up before the purchase?

Sign-ups can create a lot of friction for the user, especially for small online stores – who don’t have a brand like Flipkart or Amazon. Many sites have a process to confirm the email ID of a user. It requires tremendous effort from the user.

Step A: User enters email ID

Step 2: User enters a password ( Conditional passwords are a big headache for a user: Remember that your password must contain a capital letter,$@@## etc. and a number that must be 16 characters long ) Huh!

Step 3: Goes to the email providers website

Step 4: Provides login information

Step 5: Look for an email confirmation from us [ meanwhile got distracted by emails and abandons the purchase ], But just in case you are lucky, she opens the email you sent with the confirmation link.

Step 6: Clicks on the link [ many times – this doesn’t work and the link comes out broken, so the user may need to copy and paste the horrible looking long URL in the browser to confirm his email ]

Step 7: Email confirmation success page. Now what? Does she need to close this window and move back to the page she was on earlier on?

Step 8: Moves back to the earlier page. Refreshes the page. If the session is maintained long enough, her sign-up is completed. Otherwise, she gets redirected to the login page.

My point is, do we need our users to complete all this process before she becomes our customer ( purchases something from us ). If not, let’s remove them from the flow.

Now look at step 8, Clicks on Pay Now! She is now directed to a third party payment gateway to make a payment. If we didn’t pass all the mandatory data [ such as billing and shipping details etc.]

automatically, she would need to re-fill all the details. After that, she makes a payment.

payment-getway-completion-page

Can’t we integrate the payment processing right into our website? So that she doesn’t need to switch windows and sites.

payment-integrated-in-website-via-modal

After these changes, let’s look at our list.

make-customer-journey-simple

Much better from where we started. We managed to reduce the number of steps from twelve to six.

How to make a visual customer journey map?

Once we have our final list, use the diagraming tool of your choice to convert it into a flow chart. A visual map will help you understand the cross-linkages, failure points and user paths on a single screen. It will come in handy when we hand over the project to developers for coding.

visual-customer-journey

Moving from visual journey map to wireframes

Once you have clarity on the user’s journey, it is time to start creating a wireframe for every screen. Again, try to include as many details as possible in your wireframes. For example: What will you write on your CTA? What kind of visual assets ( pictures, videos or illustrations ) will be used and how they will be placed on the page.

website-wireframe-detailed

Reviewing customer journey map

Once you have wireframes in place, you need to evaluate and think through them for five essential elements.

thinking-thorough-website-wireframe

All the elements need to be detailed for every page on your website.

  • User’s emotional state: What will the user think when she lands on our page? Did she saw our Ad somewhere and clicked on it. Will she be excited, doubtful or looking for something. What emotions she will be experiencing.
  • The action you want the user to complete: Think about what action you want the user to complete on this page. For example, click a button, type something, click a link etc.
  • Data you want to capture: Data capture can happen explicitly by asking the user for some input such as name, email, password or can be done implicitly by recording user’s behaviour by analytics software such as Google Analytics, Crazy Egg, Hotjar etc.
  • A goal you want the user to achieve: Think about what success will look like; sign up completion, registration, move to another page in the journey etc
  • Problems or hurdles the user may face: Think about possible problem scenarios and limitations a user may face while completing the action you want them to achieve. For example, if you ask for a minimum 16 character password with special characters in it, how easy or difficult it is for the user to provide that. Can the user fail?

Moving from UX to UI

Congratulations! Once you have completed the above steps, you have created your user journey map.

Now you can move on to UI ( User Interface ) from UX ( User experience ) design.

ui-derived-after-ux-is-clear

As we have now completed the first part of the article, let’s move on to a couple of UX design best practices.

Best UX practices for goals and CTA

As far as possible, try to keep only one action item or CTA per page. More than one action item per page will increase cognitive load and can cause confusion and abandonment.

one-action-per-page-is-better-ux

If your website has different use cases, you may want to achieve this is by splitting the user goals into chunks and using different landing pages for the different use cases connected via one.

improve-ux-by-splitting-pages

As we have now completed the first part of the article, let’s move on to a couple of UX design best practices.

Improve user engagement by using interactive actions as soon as possible

Interactive actions such as typing, uploading a pic etc., can significantly improve user engagement. It may be hard to do for all the websites, but you may be able to come up with one if you think hard.

getting-users-to-type-improves-engagement

Examples: Get the user to start a POST (FB, LINKEDIN), Get the user to type the name of the business ( myraah.io ), Get the user to upload a photo ( Instagram ), Get the user to type ( Google )

Make your listing page similar to sites a user is familiar with

Listing pages are complex. They could be challenging to use. Do not try to reinvent the wheel here. Instead, make your listing page layout closer to more significant sites a user is customary to use. It will help the user save their cognitive bandwidth in figuring out how to use your design and move to the content.

use-familiar-interface-for-product-listing-page

Read our article, which explains this concept in detail here:

Does Familiarity Builds Trust With Users and Makes Them Stick

Build your content model before your product page

Your product detail page is vital as the user will make a buy or no buy decision on this page.

Thinking about the content model for your product page can significantly improve your conversion rates and SEO.

Suppose you are a salesman in the leather bag store. What information/domain knowledge do you wish to have before handling a customer? For example, you must know about the material, the dimensions of the bag, the colour of the bag, the use case of the bag: casual/formal/work/leisure/party etc.; you will possibly also know who built this bag.

domain-data-model-makes-content-creation-efficient

Suppose you can capture these domain/ expert data-point systematically for all your products. Then, you will find it easier to put together an effective and high converting product page. These data points will also enable you to link between the pages rightly and create some SEO juice.

I hope this is helpful. Do share this article and leave comments/questions on our Linkedin page.

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Does Familiarity Build Trust With Users And Make Them Stick?

Humans have evolved to get comfortable with familiar things and experiences.

Humans find familiarity incredibly valuable. We have evolved over centuries to feel comfortable & safe in a familiar environment. Likewise, knowing how to operate a particular interface makes us feel comfortable and safe.

Good web design requires consideration of the cognitive (mental) demands of the users. While users may spend extended periods of time on the web, individual websites may not receive the same level of intensive and prolonged interaction.

Users spend most of their time on other websites and expect your website to work similarly.

They like websites which are intuitive, easy to navigate, simple to use and are aesthetically pleasing.

What is Familiarity?

Familiarity is an understanding, often based on previous interactions, experiences, and learning of what, why, where and when others do what they do.

For example, familiarity with Amazon.com – one of the major bookselling websites -would be in the knowing of how to search for books, gather information about them and order them. Familiarity in this context is a specific activity-based cognizance based on previous experience or learning how to use the particular interface. Users will expect the same process when they visit your website.

amazon-book-purchase-ui

Familiarity reduces uncertainty by establishing a structure.

Familiarity is the people’s knowledge of a product or service based on their previous experiences and contacts. Accordingly, familiarity is defined as ‘the number of experiences related to a product that the consumer has accumulated over time’. Moreover, several studies conducted on individuals’ purchasing behavior reported that familiarity could significantly influence consumers’ decision-making processes.

Familiarity is a precondition for trust

People subjectively reduce uncertainty and simplify their relationships with others through familiarity. While familiarity indeed builds trust, it is primarily people’s disposition to trust that affects their trust on the website. As such, familiarity and trust are distinctly different. Familiarity deals with an understanding of other people’s current actions or objects, while trust deals with beliefs about the future actions of other people.

In using Amazon.com, familiarity would reduce complexity by understanding how to search and buy books through the site (structure of the interface) and the procedure involved (design of the interaction).

Though familiarity and trust are distinctly different, they are related. Trust in another person or organization is built when the other person or organization behaves according to one’s favorable expectations. Familiarity creates this background and is, therefore, ‘the precondition for trust’.

Familiarity lowers the cognitive load.

Familiarity with the website structure is a crucial factor in the effectiveness of a website. Familiarity lets users be aware of each move towards and reaching their goal. For example, using meaningful categories is an essential determinant of website’s ease of use and is necessary for effective e-commerce. A cognitive explanation for this is that users spend some of their limited processing capabilities on navigation that otherwise can be used to consume the content.

Over a period of time, our perceptions form familiarity.

It is important to note that familiarity is strongly associated with perception. And our perceptions are formed or significantly influenced by our expectations in a particular situation.

We perceive what we expect to perceive. Our expectations and, therefore, our perceptions are biased. These biases come from our past experiences, the current context and the goals we seek to achieve.

The past: our experience

The sketch ( By R. C. James) below shows how priming of the mind can affect perception.

What do you see? A random sprinkling of ink.

how-priming-affects-your-mind-perception

What if I told you it’s a dog sniffing the ground near a tree. Does your visual system re-organize the image into a different sketch? Do you also notice that it is difficult to see the sketch as a random collection of ink once your mind has recognized the Dog?

Users of websites often click buttons or links without looking carefully at them. Instead, they act based on their past experiences rather than what they see on the screen.

user-behavior-scan-website-not-read

While browsing, we form a habit of going to the next page by clicking the right button, and when we reach the last page, we don’t notice the change and click without thinking.

A corollary to the same effect is when users browse a website, they look for a familiar way of browsing or interacting with your content. If you show your input field on a contact form differently from what a user is accustomed to seeing, the user may miss this altogether.

The present: the current context

The context always drives our perception. We don’t look at letters as a collection of lines or symbols. We derive the meaning in totality. In this sense, context decides the meaning.

The example below illustrates the point.

perception-depends-on-context

How we identify the characters depends upon the context.

The future: our goals

Additionally, goals and plans which we seek to achieve also affect our perception significantly. We tend to filter out things unrelated to our goals subconsciously. Unrelated items don’t even get noticed by our conscious mind.

When users visit a website to do a particular task or seek information, they do not read the full content carefully. Instead, they scan screens quickly and superficially for items that seem related to their goal. They don’t simply ignore things unrelated to their goals; they often don’t even notice them.

Our goals drive our perceptions by dominating our senses. For example, if you are intensely engaged in conversation with someone in a party/crowded place, your mind filters out surrounding chatters.

This filtering also happens when users visit a website.

where-we-look-depends-upon-focus

You may miss an important notification as you are focused on something else.

The selective perception happens because the human mind is designed to focus on relevant information/ visuals and ignore/blur the rest. Magicians use this to their advantage.

mind-focusses-on-goal

So, for example, if we are looking for a “blue” car in a parking lot, blue cars seem to pop out as we scan the parking lot; cars of other colors are not even noticed by our mind, even though, in a sense, we do see them.

Website Design Implications

While displaying any information on your website, you must

  • Avoid ambiguity
  • Be consistent
  • Understand the goals of your users and enable them

For example, a computer displays BUTTONS.

Make your information control consistent. For example, make your buttons look the same and place them in the exact location throughout the website.

maintain-consistency-to-avoid-ambiguity-in-website-design

Spend time with users to understand the goals they seek to achieve.

Realize that users’ goals may vary and that their goals strongly influence what they perceive. Therefore, ensure that the information users need at every point in an interaction are consistent, clear and unambiguous.

Lastly, when in doubt follow the standards. Keep your interface familiar and simple.

How SSL Certificate can Significantly Benefit Your Website

September 7, 2018

Well, gone are the days when people took SSL certificates to be a luxury. In today’s age where hackers are everywhere, and the users are watchful than ever, securing your website using an SSL certificate is nothing but the necessity.

If you have your website with SSL certificate, then it is as simple as that. The reason is SSL certificate do two necessary or essential tasks; it offers authentication and encryption for your website. So, today in this article, we will find out how SSL certificate can significantly benefit your site. All you need is to read this article to get the insight of the benefits of SSL certificate for a website.

How SSL certificate can benefit your website

Visible Security Signals:

As we all know people are more conscious about security than ever, so it is one of the biggest concerns that you have to look after for visitors. In this regard, an SSL certificate can help you to show a sign of visible security on your website which indicates that your site is secure to visit.

It is not only necessary for blogs/websites but e-Commerce websites too. People avoid shopping from those online shops where they don’t find security checkout option. So, one thing is clear now, if you want to improve your reputation, then SSL certificate is essential for your website.

Increase Conversion rate:

According to Studies, it has been shown that an SSL certificate can fantastic increase a conversion rate of an e-Commerce website. The estimated volume is 11-42% for e-Commerce websites.

Increase website’s online transaction value:

With an increase in conversion rate, SSL certificate for an e-Commerce website can also increase the average online transaction value for each sale. With the advancement in online purchases, most of the concern users now have security issues for the amount being paid. And it’s natural! If someone is paying for stuff, he must want to have a safe and secure transaction.

According to a survey, an SSL certificate that was being installed on a beauty product website shown an increased value of transaction by 23% than ever. Well, this makes sense, if a customer has faith on your site, he will be more likely to spend huge amount rather than being feared of losing that value.

HTTPS-Google’s ranking algorithm:

Well, Google has already declared that a strong HTTPS encryption by default for a site is the factor within their search algorithm. However, the importance of HTTPS for the website has been demonstrated by further studies. So, you need to consider it if you want to keep your site according to Google’s algorithms.

Browsers increasing their alerts for non-secure sites:

From 2017, Google has been giving security notices in chrome for the users if the website has no valid SSL certificate found on the pages with the sensitive information requested. So, Firefox and many other browsers have not started following suit and also google now sending out a proposal for all the browsers (user agents) to begin marking sites on HTTPS only as “No-Secure.”

Final Thoughts:

So, next time if ever this question arises in your mind “Do I need SSL Certificate?” Then alter your question to “Why Do I need to have an SSL certificate? And how many types of Certificates are available?”

Website Design Trend 2018 – What’s Hot

January 24, 2018

Every year, we see new elements and styles in website design begin to emerge.

Some elements when incorporated thoughtfully help tell stories and explain your company. Other elements work to improve how content looks on a specific device. While it’s not necessary to include every trend that comes about on your website, many of them have the potential to improve your visitor’s experience.

Large & Responsive Hero Images :

Hero_image website design

By focusing on just the image with text rather than a CTA or social buttons, Medium creates a strong visual experience that encourages you to scroll down to read more.

Large hero images are also often placed in the background with text and other content overlaid on top, like on Uber’s website.

Regardless of the approach you utilize, large images can help visually tell your story without having to rely on just text.

Why is it useful ?

Images are responsive makes for a good user experience. Website visitors can look at different images whether they are the background or product images and be able to get the same experience no matter what device they are coming from.

Background Videos:

video background website

Videos that automatically play in the background can add a lot to a page. They can be used to tell a story and significantly reduce the amount of other content that is needed to explain your business.
Why is it useful ?
Background videos focus on enticing the visitor from the moment they land on your page. The video allows your visitor to understand the key points about your company without ever having to read a single line of text.

Semi-Flat Design:

flat design in website

In 2013 Apple fundamentally shifted to flat design. Simply put, flat design is any element that does not include or give the perception of three dimensions, such as shadows.

Not only is flat design is easier for users to comprehend, but it can also load more quickly on websites without complicated or overly technical elements.

Why is it useful?

Flat design helps the visitor understand your content more quickly, and adding some elements of depth can bring it to life. Regardless of whether you fully design your website using flat design or utilize shadows and other elements, it’s important to be consistent throughout your website.

Ensure that your homepage, product pages, and any other key sections of your website all utilize the same design cues so that visitors can instantly understand what they’re viewing.

Hamburger Menus:

hamburger menu in webiste

It’s likely that most websites you come in contact with have a long menu of options to choose from. The advantage of this is that the menu can take the visitor directly to where they want to go. However, the disadvantage is that they generally take up a ton of valuable screen space.

Why is it useful?

The pages of your website should have a clear path for the user to take. Removing busy navigation makes the experience cleaner and distraction-free. These improved experiences help to improve the likelihood that the user will find the information they need to complete the desired action.

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