Smart Design Keeps the User in Mind
Design and usability are one in the same when it comes to our approach on web design. A beautiful website can fall short if the proper web standards aren't considered. As a designer, I always strive to find ways to make the user experience smooth and visually engaging. This can be a difficult balancing act as the world of web is ever changing. One false move in the wrong direction and you may lose your viewer to confusion, or just plain boredom.
As many designers have paved the path before me, I have chose to listen and learn. These techniques are ones to consider when designing a new website.
Simplicity brings clarity.
As much as design is important, functionality should be the number one concern. I know all designers would like to think people are scouring the web to view greatly designed websites, but in all honesty, most are on a mission. Users are trying to find their favorite products, services, or information, and if they can't get there, then it's a lost cause. This is where simplicity applies; get to the point, stay visually lean and keep content concise.
White Space, a nice place to rest.
Airy websites that utilize white space minimize the cognitive overload for users. (1) When a viewer is presented with a design template, they scan the page, and divide the content into digestible areas of information. This is a science, so let your users frolic in white space, they will appreciate it.
Conventional, not boring.
Work with the natural flow of things. I am not saying you shouldn't push design boundaries and shoot for the creative stars, but find a happy place in the middle. Help minimize the learning curve by keeping it conventional. An example being a site using moving or floating navigation. If a user can't find the navigation, or can't select a button without chasing it around, users will quickly get frustrated and look for a way out.
Consistency is key.
Repetition creates a pleasant user experience. Avoid getting cute and keep the experience consistent. The subtle predictability of a template can also enforce unity throughout the site's design. To create consistency, work to embrace a rhythm in color, layout, spacing, padding, etc.
Highlight the important stuff.
Embracing visual cues is the most successful way to enhance usability. Using well designed communication tools such as icons, arrows, buttons, etc. can scream "pick me, pick me" to users on the hunt for information. Incorporating contrast, bold colors, and textures can highlight various content and draw attention from one item to the next.
Typography, is the best.
In terms of usability, I feel like typography is the icing on the cake. What better way to draw attention and help guide a user than with delicious typography. Typography not only helps a user to digest information but it increases scan-ability. Varying the fonts, sizes, etc. creates seamless hierarchy and creates interest in some least expecting places.
Article 1: 10 Principles of Effective Web Design