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Designing with the Users In Mind: Science Behind UX

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Designing with the Users In Mind: Science Behind UX

Posted on 10/24/2019 at 09:30 AM

Designing a website is more scientific than most people may think. Every element has a specific purpose that is crucial to the overall functionality and usability of the website. Successful websites are designed meticulously with principles and research in mind. Below are five proven methods that are crucial to successful user experience.

Hick’s Law

Hick’s Law is the concept that the more choices you present your users with, the longer it will take them to reach a decision and complete the next action. The more stimuli you present on the screen, the more clutter will be vying for the user’s attention. If the user is confused about what to do next, it will take longer for the next interaction to happen—if it happens at all.

Simplicity is the key to avoiding decision fatigue in a user. By minimizing the choices a user has, implementing strategically placed and accessible navigation, and categorizing similar sections of content together, you can lead a user through the most important pages of your website while also providing them a great experience. Taking these steps can help a user feel more in control of what they wish to see, and ultimately make them more likely to interact with the website.

The Principle of Least Surprise

Users like when systems behave in a way that is consistent with how they expect them to. To put it even more simply, users don’t like to be surprised. Designs should be functionally similar to other websites; for example, users expect the logo on a website to link back to its homepage. The book Don’t Make Me Think by usability engineer Steve Krug explains that a good website should let users accomplish their intended tasks as easily and directly as possible. By keeping your website simple and consistent, and by utilizing recognition, your user will feel more comfortable.

Progressive Disclosure

In creating content for your website, there is a fine line between giving your users enough information to entice them, and overwhelming them with too much detailed information at once. This is the idea of progressive disclosure. Users have limited attention spans and don’t like to waste their time or energy sifting through content. Pacing is important. If we deliver too much content too fast, the user will be overwhelmed, but if the content is delivered too slowly, the user will become disinterested or bored. One solution is to offer the option to “read more” about a section with a link or button to an inside page.

F-Shaped Pattern

The Nielsen Norman Group conducted an extensive study in 2006 with eye-tracking to learn more about how users navigate and scan websites. The F-shaped scanning pattern is characterized by its starting point in the top left corner of the page, often where the logo is placed. The user then reads horizontally across the page for main ideas (often in the main navigation area) before vertical movement down the left side of the screen. The pattern repeats, horizontal, then vertical scanning, creating an f-shape.

A related idea, the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule, backs up this research by confirming that users spend roughly 80 percent of their time looking at the left half of the screen, and 20 percent on the right half. Many designers utilize this knowledge by creating website layouts with the important information at the top or left of the screen to accommodate for common user scanning patterns.

5 Second Rule

One key statistic behind website analytics is the bounce rate. The bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors who navigate away after viewing only one page. Within mere seconds upon visiting your website, users will judge whether or not you have a message to share that is relevant, useful, or interesting. Bounce rates are also a part of search engine’s algorithms, as they send a signal that the user either found the content they were looking for, and thus to keep showing this page for similar queries, or that the website visit was unsuccessful and to demote the page.

A website’s load time directly contributes to your bounce rate. If a website is struggles to show content or images, users will navigate away from the page before it can even finish loading. To improve the speed of your website, ensure that your images are optimized for the web, especially on mobile. Designers should also place the most important idea at the top of the page so it does not get overlooked. There is nothing like a first impression, so make sure it’s a good one to keep your users engaged and avoid high bounce rates. 

Are you ready to implement these UX principles on your own website? Contact us today about improving usability or even redesigning your website!

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