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10 Principles Of Good Website Design — Smashing Magazine
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- When you're creating a site, your job is to get rid of the question marks -- the decisions users need to make consciously, considering pros, cons and alternatives.
- As Ryan Singer -- the developer of the 37Signals team -- states, users would probably be eager to provide an email address if they were asked for it after they'd seen the feature work, so they had some idea of what they were going to get in return.
- The only element which is directly visible to the users is the word "free" which works attractive and appealing, but still calm and purely informative.
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[JN / DWU] Users don't make optimal choices. Users don't search for the quickest way to find the information they're looking for. Neither do they scan webpage in a linear fashion, going sequentially from one site section to another one. Instead users satisfice; they choose the first reasonable option. As soon as they find a link that seems like it might lead to the goal, there is a very good chance that it will be immediately clicked. Optimizing is hard, and it takes a long time. Satisficing is more efficient. [video]Sequential reading flow doesn't work in the Web. Right screenshot on the image at the bottom describes the scan path of a given page. Users follow their intuition. In most cases users muddle through instead of reading the information a designer has provided. According to Steve Krug, the basic reason for that is that users don't care. " If we find something that works, we stick to it. It doesn't matter to us if we understand how things work, as long as we can use them. If your audience is going to act like you're designing billboard, then design great billboards. " Users want to have control. Users want to be able to control their browser and rely on the consistent data presentation throughout the site. E.g. they don't want new windows popping up unexpectedly and they want to be able to get back with a "Back"-button to the site they've been before: therefore it's a good practice to never open links in new browser windows. one Don't make users think According to Krug's first law of usability, the web-page should be obvious and self-explanatory. When you're creating a site, your job is to get rid of the question marks -- the decisions users need to make consciously, considering pros, cons and alternatives. If the navigation and site architecture aren't intuitive, the number of question marks grows and makes it harder for users to comprehend how the system works and how to get from point A to point B. A clear structure, moderate visual clues and easily recognizable links can help users to find their path to their aim. Let's take a look at an example. claims to be "beyond channels, beyond products, beyond distribution". What does it mean? Since users tend to explore web-sites according to the "F"-pattern, these three statements would be the first elements users will see on the page once it is loaded. Although the design itself is simple and intuitive, to understand what the page is about the user needs to search for the answer. This is what an unnecessary question mark is. It's designer's task to make sure that the number of question marks is close to zero The visual explanation is placed on the right hand side. Just exchanging both blocks would increase usability. ExpressionEngine uses the very same structure like Beyondis, but avoids unnecessary question marks. Furthermore, the slogan becomes functional as users are provided with options to try the service and download the free version. By reducing cognitive load you make it easier for visitors to grasp the idea behind the system. Once you've achieved this, you can communicate why the system is useful and how users can benefit from it. People won't use your web site if they can't find their way around it. two Don't squander users' patience In every project when you are going to offer your visitors some service or tool, try to keep your user requirements minimal. The less action is required from users to test a service, the more likely a random visitor is to actually try it out. First-time visitors are willing to play with the service, not filling long web forms for an account they might never use in the future. Let users explore the site and discover your services without forcing them into sharing private data. It's not reasonable to force users to enter an email address to test the feature. As Ryan Singer -- the developer of the 37Signals team -- states, users would probably be eager to provide an email address if they were asked for it after they'd seen the feature work, so they had some idea of what they were going to get in return. Stikkit is a perfect example for a user-friendly service which requires almost nothing from the visitor which is unobtrusive and comforting. And that's what you want your users to feel on your web site. Apparently, Mite requires more. However the registration can be done in less than 30 seconds -- as the form has horizontal orientation, the user doesn't even need to scroll the page. Ideally remove all barriers, don't require subscriptions or registrations first. A user registration alone is enough of an impediment to user navigation to cut down on incoming traffic. three Manage to focus users' attention As web-sites provide both static and dynamic content, some aspects of the user interface attract attention more than others do. Obviously, images are more eye-catching than the text -- just as the sentences marked as bold are more attractive than plain text. The human eye is a highly non-linear device, and web-users can instantly recognize edges, patterns and motions. This is why video-based advertisements are extremely annoying and distracting, but from the marketing perspective they perfectly do the job of capturing users' attention. Humanized perfectly uses the principle of focus. The only element which is directly visible to the users is the word "free" which works attractive and appealing, but still calm and purely informative. Subtle hints provide users with enough information of how to find more about the "free" product. Focusing users' attention to specific areas of the site with a moderate use of visual elements can help your visitors to get from point A to point B without thinking of how it actually is supposed to be done. The less question marks visitors have, the better sense of orientation they have and the more trust they can develop towards the company the site represents. In other words: the less thinking needs to happen behind the scenes, the better is the user experience which is the aim of usability in the first place. four Strive for feature exposure Modern web designs are usually criticized due to their approach of guiding users with visually appealing 1-2-3-done-steps, large buttons with visual effects etc. But from the design perspective these elements actually aren't a bad thing. On the contrary, such guidelines are extremely effective as they lead the visitors through the site content in a very simple and user-friendly way. Dibusoft combines visual appeal with clear site structure. The site has nine main navigation options which are visible at the first glance. The choice of colors might be too light, though. Letting the user see clearly what functions are available is a fundamental principle of successful user interface design. It doesn't really matter how this is achieved.
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