One of the best books I’ve ever read on website usability was written by Steve Krug, called “Don’t Make Me Think . I had read it once before the Conversations on Website Conversion Book Club started reading it this July, but I’ve gotten even more out of it the second time through.
In many areas of life, thinking is very important. Thinking before you speak, thinking before you act, thinking through a problem to get to a solution…these are just a few of examples of how thinking helps us. So why is it so important to design a website so that people don’t have to think?
Is your bounce rate too high? Is your conversion rate too low? These are just a few of the website issues that can be solved by not forcing your website’s visitors to think.
The single most important thing to keep in mind when designing a webpage is that your audience is typically in a hurry, busy, and doesn’t have time to think. The more your website requires the visitor to stop and think, the less effective it will be.
Anything that serves as a distraction—this can be difficult navigation, hard-to-spot links, or a confusing search bar—will force your busy audience to think, and to become frustrated. When a visitor is frustrated, they aren’t going to be able to focus on how great your new product is. All that they will be able to concentrate on is their frustration with your website.
The solution is to focus on creating a webpage that will make people feel welcomed and confident. The first step in being able to do that effectively is to observe how people actually use the internet. As a designer, it is easy to get wrapped up in your own artistic conception of the website and forget about the users.
The most basic concern of internet users is speed and efficiency. People don’t want to read long essays, and they don’t want to have to struggle through difficult navigations or obscurely worded links. Rather, they will scan a page and look for keywords relevant to their interests and needs.
If a page does have a lot of text, this will only make the user wary that they might be missing out on something important. Why frustrate your visitors with several long paragraphs when a well crafted sentence or two will accomplish your purpose? Every design choice it needs to be made in the context of what a web user actually wants. They want a website where what to do and how to do it is easy and obvious.
Want to learn more about making your website more useable? Pick up a copy of Steve Krug’s best selling book “Don’t Make Me Think” and join the discussion at our book club Conversations on Website Conversion on GoodReads.com .