Posted in Web Design on 23 November, 2017
On a less serious note, the discipline of ‘Website Design’ is almost like energy. Yes, it can be created and destroyed, but it often changes form. Trends keep coming. Some stay, some are forgotten, and other don’t matter.
However, there are some preconceived notions that have dug deep into our way of designing websites. It won’t be a mistake to call them a slip of understanding, or, we dare say, myths – the ones that could threaten the user experience of your website, needless to mention, its success.
Let’s debunk some.
We know most of you would still support this. After all, it’s called ‘home’ – the place where everything existing in the website should reside. It should be the page that directs to the rest of the pages and propel the purpose of the site. At least this is what people hold onto.
This is no longer the case. User behaviour has drastically changed over time. Finding brands is no longer restricted to word of mouth, offline promotions, or even typing URLs on address bars. Search Engines are ruling the game. And then, there’s social media, referrals, emails, newsletters, and so many other channels that provide direct access to the other pages. The homepage hardly gets noticed.
The New York Times once quoted…
“Our home page has been our main tool for getting our journalism to readers, but its impact is waning.”
Here’s an interesting case pointed out in a recent study:
Viewers are now exposed to deeper landing pages and content via off-page blogs, articles, and a huge chunk of social media shares. Therefore, homepages of present times are left with the single purpose of just fetching the entrances to content.
In simpler terms, if you are selling a product online, potential buyers wouldn’t loiter on your homepage. They would rather be on the specific product page instead. Check Amazon. Its homepage is only a collection of its most popular contents. No hotchpotch, no confusions, because who spends time on an eCommerce homepage, anyway!
Of course, there’s another breed of websites – the one that indulges in core content creation. We are talking about sites like BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, and the likes that take in content all the time. Their homepages, too, have a single purpose in the sense that only the top stories find a room there. What would a reader receive of such homepages? Yes, only information.
Those who disagree might point out Facebook. Its homepage has everything and no one ever ventures out from there, so to speak. But, let’s not forget there’s nothing to see in this page unless you are logged in. We guess that makes sense now.
So, the fact remains:
“The Homepage doesn’t hold it all. It’s barely important.”
Lesser the clutter, clearer will be the primary message of a website. Designers and their clients are often made to believe this. Well, it is more or less true depending on what you understand of ‘minimalism’ and ‘simplicity.’ Both hold different meanings.
While the former is a style, the latter is how this style works. It could be the most complicated of designs and still be simple. It could be the most minimal of websites and still deliver a bad user experience. Allow us to explain.
Consider a Contact form where you want the user to feed an email. You could put it in the following two ways:
The first one is apparently a bad practice, where a placeholder text is the only visual element present. Because the label is absent, a user is highly likely to make a blunder while filling out the form.
Now, the second form has the label ‘Email,’ which clearly shows what the user needs to input. Both the forms demonstrate minimalist design. However, only the second delivers simplicity. It adds as an intuitive element to the user interface, making it easier to understand the requested action.
So, the fact remains:
“Minimalism is about decreasing the visual elements. Simplicity is how easily these elements convey the user experience.”
Visitors land on websites in search of products and services. They’d like to know who you are, what you offer, or why you’re an ideal choice, rather than awe at what an aesthetic amazeballs you have created. This is where most designers go wrong, not that they are to blame alone. This is the protocol taken as a convention almost blindfoldedly.
Designers are asked to create wireframes and fill them up with dummy text. Content developers have to struggle and dally with replacing the same with their thoughts and words. Content, which was upheld as a king until now, is automatically relegated to a lower status. Copywriting loses its meaning.
The best practice is to form a content component library first, which details all content requirements. Next, an information architecture should be built around this, specifying the position and layout of content within the web page with respect to navigation and display. Lastly, a wireframe should be created based on the layout so tangible, pragmatic results can be drawn.
Remember, content is the key to decision-making. Users come looking for this very element. The more you have to struggle with it, the more it shows on your website, eventually lowering the user experience. Whenever you are using dummy text, you are only providing invalid information. You are actually asking people – including the writers – to do the guesswork and make assumptions.
So, the fact remains:
“Website design should begin with content, because you build a house and then paint it, not gather the paint and then build the house.”
We believe debunking the design myths would definitely help designers make better choices in their line of work. We’ll come back with more myths in the next part of this post. If there’s anything you want to let us know, feel free to leave a comment below.
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