How users interact with websites

Different audiences view a message in different ways. People use and react to web sites differently to how we think. Having this in mind, it's best to tailor websites for the correct audience. As with all product specifications, it's not possible to capture all aspects without sacrificing other features. So while a nice and informative site can provide all the knowledge in the world, users won't notice it if it's not presented in the right way. Finding the right balance between aesthetic and convenience is no hidden art but it's easily forgotten as websites evolve.

How is this possible? Isn't that why web designers come into picture in the first place? After all, they should be masters of marketing in the internet domain.

As you can see, it's a little more complicated than this, as it depends on the requirements of our customer and our customer's customer. Most of the time, the entire content of the website will conform to what our customer requires. Though they are the main driving force as to why the website exists, it's important to understand that the website has to be functional for the final user.

If you want to design effective web sites, there are a couple of principles to have in mind:

We scan pages without fully reading them.

Attention time spans are reducing day by day in many web users. There is an endless source of information out in the web which would take more than a life time to read. Users are moving fast and hungry for information. This is not speed reading which we are talking about, rather skipping entire lines of text and only focusing for a few keywords of interest. You need to provide the answer fast or you risk losing your user.

Providing concise information that helps determine the user has landed in the right place is key to hook their attention. Information should then be released in bursts, or provide direction were the full text is located for those who wish to invest their time in reading the complete source. Pictures, graphs and diagrams are an exceptional way of packing many details in the least possible space. Learn to follow your users eyes and you can lead them to where you want.

We learn as we navigate

We don't take the time to understand how something works before using it. Though taking a quick minute to analyse and understand how a website is organized can ideally save more time, users tend to launch right into action. We think we understand how the internet works and dont need guidance. After all, when is the last time you took the time to read the entire manual for your new TV, computer or car? While the overall features might be the same, there will always be that one extra feature that could have made our lives easier if we just had taken the time to read. 

Starting simple with few choices can provide a clear path how to get to their destination. The more choices you provide at the same time, the more the chances increase that the user will land in the wrong place. A design that adapts to the user's environment can also trim much of the needed baggage. The layout of a site accessed via a smartphone has a very different purpose from that of a full screen desktop/laptop. 

We satisfy a need and don't optimize our selection

While there are plenty of smart robots crawling the web, the most important users tend to be humans. Providing many options means that the user has to take several factors into account to make a decision. This is hard thinking and time that most users don't want to deal with. The easiest choice is to pick the most reasonable one expecting to land in the right place. Guessing is less costly and you can always go back to the previous page. Whatever provides immediate reward will keep the us hooked to the site long enough.

Intuitive content and fast loading sites are what helps meet the primary desires of users. Multilingual sites provide content that appeals to potential customers around the globe. Selection and presentation should be tailored to the right audience. Whats important to the designer is not necessarily important to the user.


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