Tips on website interface design
It is safe to say that the response and the engagement a website received depends heavily on the interface of the site.
An interface of a website is the point of contact between the visitor and the site and it is vital that the design elements are user-friendly and inviting, driving users to repeat visit and stay on for long.
Here are some tips on how to design a good interface for your website.
§ Look in to your audience: In marketing, everything needs to be done with the audience in mind. Users always come first. A designer’s most important role is to research to identify the group of people are who’d potentially be interested in the products and services offered by the site. This could be as simple as a quick demographic check on the target audience. For example, if your product is professional publications, your target audience would be students, professionals and lecturers. A site designed for that audience should ideally be clean, clear and and not contain too much colour, flash, social feeds such as an entertainment site would contain. The fonts should also be easy to read, standard and not fancy. View an example of the BQu Services site.
§ Observe: A designer needs to be a good observer. Studying random people browsing through sites is a good method of studying browser behaviour. Some tips would be to read articles and research reports on navigation patterns shown by individuals and try to narrow down the results relevant to your demographic. Certain eye-tracking studies performed on websites reveal that websites contain a header in the home page, people are more likely to look for the main site links in that section. It is also found that if you have several images to display, thumbnails work better than slideshows. Tools such as Google Analytics, Piwik, QuantCast are very useful in demonstrating user behaviour and which pages have lesser bounce rates and visit duration over the other pages.
§ Placement is everything: One of the worst user experiences of a website is when users get to the site and cannot find what they are looking for, for a long time. While it is important not to clutter the homepage, designers should also strike a balance and have the obvious links and information at a glance.
§ Consistency: This is one of the most important facts a designer should keep in mind. Similar aspects should be kept consistent in various places in the site. This refers to locations, colours, branding etc. i.e. the fonts/styles in text in one subsection should be identical to those in a similar subsection. A site that demonstrates this very well is Accenture
§ Use common conventions: The use of icons, pictures, although common, are extremely helpful in making the user understand and absorb the content of the website quickly. Although they may seem mainstream, a site delivers best when the user engagement is high. The use of accepted standards reduces the time a user spends “thinking”.
§ Leave out the excess: Although it may be tempting to use lots of media content, slogans, images etc., they might just turn the visitors off or distract them from the main message.This is a common practice of certain popular news sites in Sri Lanka which are loaded with ads, banners etc., so much so that it is very difficult to locate the key news items. It is important that UI designs are to the point and simple.
§ Test, Test and Test Again: The best learning can be obtained by testing interfaces. Testing of the interface should be done from the prototype stage using different audiences. The suggestions given by these audiences could be vital to make some changes before launching the site. A tool that can help with this is “Google Experiments” (previously know as the Google Website Optimizer) which lets you create 2 versions of the same page and shows which performs better.
While it is not a must to always follow conventional methods, the most important aspect of a site is the user experience and every interface should be designed with these facts in mind.
Created: May 9th, 2014