Overthinking Design Could Mean Underperforming Online
A few days ago, I was in a client meeting where the direction of a new website design was the main topic of discussion.
As we got into the nitty-gritty of the proper approach, Don Twerdun, Reach’s Director of Marketing & Growth, offered up what I consider one of the most interesting and accurate insights I’ve come across in my time in this industry:
“Think of it like writing a children’s book: simple text, lots of effective imagery, clear messaging.”
When it comes to condensing the basic principles of modern web design into a simple but significant sentence, this one hits the mark.
Intrigued? Let’s talk about why Don’s on to something.
Web Design 101: Don’t Make Me Think
A cousin to the oft-quoted, “Keep It Simple, Stupid”, “Don’t Make Me Think” comes from the title of a book written by web usability consultant Steve Krug, and is a key rule when it comes to every element of web design and development.
The less your users have to stop and wonder the following, the better:
- Am I on the right site? Does this actually have the products/services/content I’m looking for?
- Is that link going to take me to the page I want/need to take my next desired action?
- Is this phone number/email address/contact form really going to put me in touch with the right person?
Landing on, navigating through, and converting via your website should be as seamless a process as possible.
Users shouldn’t have to take a single microsecond to consider the time they’re spending on it and if it’s wasted. The only thinking they should have to do pertains to questions like, “Do I want the red or the blue version of this product?”
Why the Children’s Book Approach to Web Design is Logical
So with these rules in mind, let’s look at the parallel approaches to writing a book for kids and designing a website for a decision-making, adult audience.
This is no place for $10 words.
None of your users care how many syllables you can use in a sentence, so just get to the point quickly and clearly.
Well-formatted, simple, straightforward copy is your best bet for keeping users engaged and preventing their eyes from glazing over – and glancing towards the back button.
Lots of Effective Imagery
Can you imagine how boring the web would be if it was 100% text?
And this is coming from a self-professed rambler who loves to read.
Images add an exciting, dynamic appeal that helps break up content, makes navigating a website a heck of a lot less dull, and has the potential to drive conversions through visually-satisfying elements that show off your unique selling points.
It’s usually not hard to take away the moral of the story from a kid’s book.
Your website should be the same when it comes to how you direct users towards taking a desired action, and comes back to the “Don’t Make Me Think” rule.
Lay out, with as much clarity as possible, the path(s) users have to take in order to leave the site satisfied they’ve done what they came to do.
Simple text and effective imagery are an excellent start, and elements like big, coloured and clearly-labelled buttons are also ideal for pointing users in the right direction with zero confusion.
Stick to Simple Design, Readability & Navigation – Your Users Will Thank You
Maybe users won’t thank you directly, but you’ll reap rewards like higher levels of qualified traffic, a more engaged audience, and increased leads, sales and other key conversions.
So dig out that old copy of Goodnight, Moon and thumb through it – you might just find it’s the perfect source of inspiration for that website redesign you’ve been kicking around in your head.