Ever heard the saying ‘less is more’?
Well, in the world of website design that old saying is now becoming the focus for creating effective websites. After decades of designing ever-more complex websites that look incredible but are a complete pain to use, the website design industry has now started listening to the most important person in the design process – the actual website user.
Today, those at the forefront of website design have come to realise that users don’t want to be wowed with complex graphics; they want to get to the information they’re after as quickly and as intuitively as possible. This has lead to a new attitude towards website design where usability is at the top of the agenda rather than aesthetics.
How We Got Here – Lessons From Mobile Web
The primary driver behind the usability focus in modern website design is no doubt the increase in the use of web-browsing on mobile devices and in particular, apps.
When designing for mobile devices, the designer has to put-aside their creative urges and focus on creating a lightweight website that doesn’t gobble-up the users data plan with unnecessary images or frustrate them with overly-complex navigation.
The fact that many users actually preference using the mobile version or app for many websites helped designers to conclude that perhaps, usability was more important for the website visitor than flashy graphics.
Take for example Amazon.co.uk – a website that most of use quite frequently.
Amazon’s actual desktop website could never be accused of being ‘over-designed’ but it’s pages are severely cluttered. In contrast, the mobile version of their website and their app are both simplistic and easy to navigate…
Unshackled from the need to create complex graphics or unnecessary ‘eye candy’, designers working on apps or mobile websites could simply focus on making it easy to use.
And so began the renaissance in creating websites that took the lessons learned from mobile browsing.
The Government Get’s it Right (Honestly)
In Spring 2013, The UK Government unveiled its new website www.gov.uk. After years of criticism from users, the designers decided the only way forward was to completely re-design the website from top to bottom.
And what did they do? They kept the design simple and applied the majority of their focus on making it easy to use. After all, whether you’re the UK Government or a firm of accountants from Bristol, you want your website users to be able to get to the information they require as quickly and as easily as possible right?
Such was the positive response to new gov.uk website, it actually won several design awards including the Design of the Year Award (as reported by the BBC).
Thinking of Re-Designing Your Company’s Website?
When a company decides to re-design their website (or indeed, create a new one), they instinctively assume that a great design is simply how the website looks. They place all the value in the designers time spent on the visuals and the more complex, the more they value it – this attitude couldn’t be more wrong.
Regardless if you’re selling a service or products, your website visitors won’t be persuaded to buy from you because you happen to have an overly-designed website; they’ll buy from you because your website provides them with the information they want as quickly and as comprehensively as possible.
Great content, simple navigation, easy-to-read fonts and lack of visual clutter are the things that your website users now want/expect so when the time comes to revamp your website, think of your users (customers), not your own personal aspirations for how the website should look.
If you’d like to get more advice on website design, visit our web design page.