9 Myths About Your Future Website & Users
There are a lot of misconceptions about starting a new web project. Here are a few key ones to look out for and some additional resources to help you avoid common UX pitfalls.1.
My old logo will look fine on a new, modern website.It’s very likely that your website is the most frequently-viewed branded product your current and potential customers see. If your website was out-dated and neglected before, it’s likely your entire visual brand identity needs to be re-thought. Logo design is more often than not a fraction of the cost of the website. Bringing a weak or outdated logo to a new web design handicaps it from the start.2.
My users are dumb.Far too often, we think of users as children who need hand-holding every step of the way. UX designers are frequently asked to design for the lowest common denominator instead of taking the tech savviness of your target demographic into account. This may very well be the most detrimental way to approach UX strategy. It’s likely the majority of your users have a fundamental grasp of technology, so in most cases, it’s okay to give users the benefit of the doubt when it comes to modern web conventions. 3.
My users are just like me.This is very unlikely. Understanding your current users and the users you are targeting, how they behave, how they use the web and understand technology may be very different than how you operate. For instance, while you may be thinking about your website from your desk, in front of a laptop, your users may be more likely to look at your website on a mobile phone. You may prefer to talk to someone in person, but your users may prefer to send an email or even engage via social media. These differences make each user’s experience unique and worth a specifically-targeted design.4.
Scrolling is bad.This myth (and that’s what it is – an absolute myth) is still perpetuated based on web best practices from 20 years ago. While it is true that the top of the page may hold more weighted value than the rest of the site, studies show time and time again that users do scroll. Some even convert more often near the end of a page rather than at the beginning. This ties into “Users are just like me” above. A good rule of thumb is to be sure to leverage documented research before making assumptions about user behavior based on your own preferences.
Further Reading & Data: http://www.hugeinc.com/ideas/perspective/everybody-scrolls
Users read all of my content.Skimming is king, especially if users are faced with lots of content. A user has to be hyper-interested and engaged to read word-for-word, which is very rare. A 2008 study by Jakob Nielsen found that on average, only 20% of content is read on a page. That percentage drastically decreases after 150-200 words. Sticking to short, scannable, and friendly content drastically improves user engagement.6.
Once my new site is launched, the project is done.Letting a site sit untouched for years is what likely necessitated the need for a wholesale redesign to begin with. You need to keep moving. Using analytics, conversion rate monitoring and heat map tracking,you should update the design of the site to leverage user behavior at least annually, although quarterly would be best. This can be as simple as tweaking the on-boarding process, changing some verbiage and imagery, or switching the location of call to actions to reflect where users are spending the most time on-site.
This is the UX side of Conversion Rate Optimization. Tools like CrazyEgg and Google Analytics can help you determine what your users are doing on your site, which can and should influence any updates you make to existing designs.7.
Thinking outside the box is the only way to go.Conventions are your friends. Design on the web is consolidating for a reason, and that’s because we have decades of cumulative user behavior data to draw from. It may be possible that your competitors did this legwork and that’s why you see similarities in their designs. Even more broadly, design is a tool that solves a problem – and while that tool is constantly changing and evolving, it’s not very often that the wheel gets reinvented (even in technology). And that’s okay. 8.
Space is bad!Unused space is the perfect opportunity for more content, another call-to-action, or a picture of my cat! Not necessarily. Whitespace, or negative or empty space, plays a critical role shaping a user’s experience by assisting with the visual layout of your website. Open space improves readability, functioning as a passive guide directing users through your page. White space also helps define content priority.
If implemented correctly, it will produce a well-balanced aesthetic. In addition, too much content or too many images can quickly overwhelm a user and create fatigue, just when you want them to be relaxed and receptive. Keep your design simple and allow for working white space where it makes sense.9.
My site should look identical on all browsers/devices.The means by which users access your website today are more varied than ever. There are an incredible number of devices out there, all with varying screen sizes that may be running different versions of up to five or six popular browsers. That would be difficult enough to manage even without the understanding that each browser can render the same code differently.
Needless to say, it’s impossible for your site to look identical on every device. Don’t fall into the design black hole of stressing over minor changes in layout or content between devices. Instead, focus on creating a consistent and quality user experience across all devices. You’ll be much happier…and so will your users.Have design questions? Leave us a comment below!