July 13, 2016 Last updated September 18th, 2018 1,406 Reads share

5 Components of Intuitive Web Design

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The presence or absence of intuitive web design is the most important element in determining whether or not a website is good or bad. Everything else comes after that. Think about it. Almost every time you’ve left a website in frustration it was due to the fact that you couldn’t find the information that you needed, nothing worked as you expected it to, or you simply couldn’t figure out what to do in order to accomplish your goals. 

All of these things are the result of a poorly designed user interface. On the other hand, your favorite websites are probably those where you don’t have to do much thinking or searching to get things done. For those websites, you can give credit to intuitive web design. What’s the secret? Keep reading to learn the 5 important components of intuitive

#1. Make Sure That Users Know The Results of Any Action They Choose to Take

An intuitive website experience contains absolutely no unpleasant surprises. This is because the designer takes the time to ensure that everything is absolutely clear. This means that all text, especially that which is  used on links or buttons, leaves no doubt in the user’s mind what will happen if they click. In addition to this, any accompanying images should be clear as well. It’s a simplistic example (and a bit silly), but imagine searching for the universally understood magnifying glass on a web page when trying to perform a search. The only problem is that it isn’t there. The web designer, in an effort to be clever, decided to use a different symbol. Not only have you wasted time, you still haven’t been able to conduct your search.

Even more importantly, an intuitively designed website does not allow users to do anything that they might regret without offering a clear warning, and a way to back out of any decision they might have made in error. This can be accomplished by using clear and easy to understand confirmation messages, and providing instructions on how to back out. Here are a few examples:

  • You Are About to Leave Our Website: Click The Green Button to Proceed or The Red Button to Stay Here
  • Are You Sure You Want to Delete Your Account? If Not Click the Cancel Button
  • If You Unsubscribe You Will Lose All Member Benefits. Click the Back Button on Your Browser to Stay With us

Not only do these warnings keep users safe, they can also be used as an effective way to keep customers in the fold. This is something that is quite valuable from a marketing standpoint.

#2. Design Simply And Use Best Practices

Have you ever noticed that while content, images, videos, logos, and other similar elements vary greatly from website to website, other elements remain the same. This is why you can often visit a new website and quickly find things without much effort. This is because most good web designers know that the human eye tracks across the screen using an ‘F’ pattern. They use this to determine where to place links, buttons, images, texts, and other elements. As a result, when you visit a well-designed page for the first time, you can easily predict where things are going to be. For example, links to the most visited pages on the website are usually located at the top of the page while links to terms of use and policy pages are located at the bottom of the page.

Now this isn’t to say that you can never deviate from this. In fact, you should, but only when it makes sense. After all, innovation is the result of going your own way. For example, eSports have caused big changes in standard practices when it comes to designing online gaming websites. Your efforts to be different should result in a better interface and improved performance. If your deviation doesn’t accomplish one or both of these goals, it is best to stick with standard practices.

#3. Select Icons That Are Easy to Discern

Web designers are big fans of icons. It’s no wonder. They provide a simple yet elegant way to communicate with users in a visual way. They also take up much less space than text, which is very useful considering that mobile first web design is now the standard. In spite of these benefits, there is still the risk of the user taking an unintended action if they misunderstand the icon.

Fortunately, this can be avoided. Web designers can carefully select icons that are absolutely clear in meaning. They can provide hover text that appears to clarify what will happen when the icon is clicked. They can also use icons that are large enough to be clearly seen by all users. Finally, designers can select icons with colors and images that make them easy to distinguish from one another, and they can avoid using proprietary images on their icons.

#4. Design With Your Specific Audience in Mind

Intuitive web design is not a one and done effort. It is ongoing. It begins by designing your website for your target customer persona. This means creating a customer profile by answering questions such as:

  • When and how will visitors most likely access my website?
  • What information will they be looking for when they first arrive?
  • What might irritate them or drive them away?
  • How can I drive them to take certain actions when they visit?

Once your website is active, you can begin using analytics to collect data about  your visitors. This data can give you the information that you need to correct any poorly made assumptions and to tweak your web design so that it works even better for your audience.

#5. Let Visitors Know What’s Going on Behind The Scenes

Picture this. You are on an eCommerce website and notice that they are offering a free, 30 day trial of a word processing package that you’ve been interested in for several months. So, you click the “download” button. Nothing happens. You wait a few seconds, then you click it again. Nothing happens. You repeat this a few more times. Finally, something happens. Seven or eight tabs open to download mirror sites, or  you look at the bottom of your screen and see that you’ve now downloaded seven or eight versions of the same executable. It’s hardly a tragic event, but it is frustrating.

It is also avoidable. If the web designer had followed this simple rule of intuitive web design; Always let visitors know what’s happening behind the scenes. Here are a few things that might have helped:

  • Designing the download button so that it moves when clicked, giving a visual clue that the user’s action had been received.
  • Displaying a message that the download would begin shortly.
  • Warning users that there could be delays when downloading the free trial

Other methods of complying with this rule include using animations to show that the page is loading, and acknowledging form submissions.

Images: ” 3D illustration of computer keyboard with the script “Intuitive Interface” on two adjacent pale blue buttons. Human engineering concept.  / Shutterstock.com

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Elena Prokopets

Elena Prokopets

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