Designing website has changed dramatically during recent times. With more information about user interaction with web interfaces being released and collected, various new platforms for testing user-friendliness. Websites are now designed around the user and research in the allied sciences of psychology, sociology and anthropology has made research bases stronger.
Despite new methods of design and a greater choice in the number of browser along with the demand, all increasing, designers still stay away from providing users with a truly great experience. Providing a website which features a high level of customization and suits the user’s individual preferences is still not common.
Usability research studies often show that when users are provided with interfaces which are alien to them or are not according to the conventions that they are used to, the usability rating is not very high.
Intuitive designing can make the user familiar with the website faster. Once the user is familiar with the website, he can concentrate on the content in an environment which is understandable to him, thus making it easier for him understand and internalize the content. And that is the ultimate aim of a website.
Making the web site intuitive is important for web designers. They need to make it simple for the user to figure out which links are clickable and where to go for further information or links. Of course, the upfront cost of making a flexible website which has a high level of customization is much more than making a website which is rigid, but the long term gains are noteworthy.
While gathering information about user preferences we should leave customization with them. Firstly, it is best method of gathering data as individual choices will reflect individual preferences.
While going through the tests we employ, we should look at which users to include, which element to work on and how the work should be implemented, along with a host of other variables.
The average web user will notice when there is something off in their user experience. Most likely, he will not comment upon it and even if he does, he will not know what the exact problem is. It would be wrong to make decisions on design on assumptions of what the user wants. That way, web sites cannot be focused towards the individual user. However, with more responsiveness and higher level of customization added to the website, the designs become more in tune with the audience and thus become better.
Only atypical users fully understand what they want and need. Designs are generally aimed at appeasing the mainstream and that should not be the case. Techniques and templates are present to help the designer interact with the user in order to fully understand what the user needs.
Behavioral engineering has become a large part of making designs more user-centric. Each individual has different preferences for their user interface. Websites already have a certain degree of customizability. They change according to screen sizes and web speeds. However, in the cycle of web evolution, predicting what users want and allowing them to get in their own customized environment is going to be the next big thing.
iGoogle has already implemented these concepts into making a supremely responsive design. These designs should not be looked at as complex designs, in fact, their implementation is simple. Their function lies beneath the aesthetic, in increasing the functionality for the user.
Design is only half the job done. If the user’s curiosity is piqued, then they may want to explore the web page further.
Links to material work to further the curiosity of the user and one should use tools such as LinkWithin to show posts which are relative to the content the user is viewing. Visitors should be shown new content and be provided with responsive links to those new content wherever possible. Tags should be applied in order to help the user find exactly what he wants.
Brett Smith is a web graphics designer at http://bigdropinc.net/ who has helped design websites which have received acclaim for their usability. Brett has been a vocal proponent of user-centric design which have a high level of customization. He provides useful advice to those who wish to better their websites and attract more users.