Design Fundamentals

Visualization works from a human perspective because we respond to and process visual data better than any other type of data. In fact, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual.   Because we are visual by nature, it’s vital that your website is visually appealing. But how do we define ‘visually appealing?’

1. Keep in mind the “instant message!:”

Advertisers have studied this phenomena for decades; the human brain unconsciously impresses certain feelings within the viewer that they may, or may not, be aware of.  Keep your site as simple as possible! It is absolutely vital that your visitors can scan your site and comprehend its basic structure. How many times have you gone to a site and felt instantly confused or overwhelmed then left?

2. Your visitors need to have a minimal amount of work to do:

Every website is offering an exploration of your products or services, so keep your user requirements minimal. The less action is required from users to test a service, the more likely a random visitor is to actually try it out. If you have e-commerce, than collect as little information as possible from your customers and keep your shopping cart and checkout as efficient and obvious as possible. Don’t write excessively long articles like the one you are reading now!

3. Focus on your overall message:

As websites provide both static and dynamic content, some aspects of the user interface attract attention more than others do. Obviously, images are more eye-catching than the text — just as the sentences marked as bold are more attractive than plain text. How the human eye travels about a page is governed by a complex set of factors, however it’s plain to understand web-users must instantly recognize edges, patterns and motions. This is why video-based advertisements are not effective, they take too long.  However, once one of your visitors takes an action that indicates a particular interest, videos can be very effective to give details of your products and services.

5. Clear, concise, and effective writing is essential:

Promotional writing is ineffective. Don’t use “salesly” language. Your visitor wants information, not a sales push, so keep your writing simple, brief, and informative.  Long text blocks without images and keywords marked in bold or italics will usually be skipped. Exaggerated language will be ignored.
Talk business. Avoid cute or clever names, marketing-induced names, company-specific names, and unfamiliar technical names. For instance, if you describe a service and want users to create an account, “sign up” is better than “start now!” which is again better than “explore our services”.

6. Strive for simplicity:

The “keep it simple”-principle (KIS) should be the primary goal of site design. Users are rarely on a site to enjoy the design; furthermore, in most cases they are looking for the information despite the design. Strive for simplicity instead of complexity. Clearly present the information about the site and give visitors a choice of options without overcrowding them with unnecessary content.

7. Keep some white space:

It’s really hard to overestimate the importance of white space. This assists your viewer in quickly getting the information they’re looking for. This makes it possible to perceive the information presented on the screen. When a new visitor approaches a design layout, the first thing he/she tries to do is to scan the page and divide the content area into digestible pieces of information.

Complex websites are much more time consuming to read, scan, analyze. If you have the choice between separating two design segments by a visible line or by some whitespace, it’s usually better to use the whitespace solution.  The result is a layout that is intuitively easy to scan and gives you the impact that is so vital.

8. Communicate effectively with a “visible language:”

• Organize: Provide the user with a clear and consistent conceptual structure. Consistency, screen layout, relationships and navigability are important concepts of organization. The same conventions styles, and rules should be applied to all elements.

• Economize: Do the most with the least amount of cues and visual elements. Four major points to be considered: simplicity, clarity, distinctiveness, and emphasis. Simplicity includes only the elements that are most important for communication.

• Clarity: all components should be designed so their meaning is not ambiguous.

• Distinctiveness: the important properties of the necessary elements should be distinguishable.

• Emphasis: The most important elements must be easily perceived.

• Communicate: The user interface must keep a balance of legibility, readability, typography, symbolism, multiple views, and color or texture in order to communicate successfully. Keep the font sizes and styles to a minimum.

9. Conventions are our friends: Don’t reinvent the wheel!

Conventional design of site elements doesn’t result in a boring web site. In fact, conventions are very useful as they reduce the learning curve, the need to figure out how things work. For instance, it would be a usability nightmare if all web-sites had different visual presentation of social media icons.  Keeping to the tried and true design fundamentals will help you gain users’ confidence, trust, reliability and prove your credibility. Follow users’ expectations — understand what they’re expecting from a site navigation, text structure, search placement etc.

10. Test early, test often

It’s vital to have friends and family members test out your site. Have them try out every button, link and feature. Ask them to give you their first impression of the website along with their experiences finding information and navigating the site.

May Fortune Spread Everywhere! – Frank Herbert, Dune

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