The Psychology of Websites
I have already mentioned in a previous article that it is usually best to be brave when creating your own website by following the crowd instead of creating something unique.
As a web designer, most of my customers would ask for something unique and although certain elements should be, such as the logo and the content, I always recommended that they follow convention for certain things.
You see, the average person who surfs the Internet is a funny being. Just as we all behave differently when we drive our cars, we behave differently when we surf the net. When we surf the net we are much more judgemental but more importantly, our patience completely disappears.
I am sure that you, like me, have waited 4 or 5 seconds for a website to load up and if it doesn't do so within that tiny time-span we click off and go and take a look at that site's competitors. Or another scenario is that you have found the website but where you have no idea where to find the information you need. Sometimes it is bacause of poorly designed menu structure and sometimes it is an "arty" site that hides the menu items behind artistic graphics over which you must place your mouse before you know for what reason they are there.
Fundamental mistakes like this are made by many business owners and web designers alike. In fact, it is part of any web designer's job to try and gently persuade some clients to move away from the type of site the owner would like to see to the type of site their customers would like to see.
Think of Your Customers First
That's it. That's the secret. Don't create the website to satisfy yourself, create it to satisfy your customers. They are exceptionally impatient and don't want to be wowed by tricks and gadgets, they want to find what they are looking for.
This does not mean that you should settle for a drab website. Quite the opposite in fact. But it does mean you should follow some conventions. Below are my ideas of the most important conventions and this list is by no means exhaustive. I would be most interested to hear from anyone who had ideas of their own regarding important rules to follow.
1. Black or White Background
The background where text is written should either be very dark or very light. Shades inbetween cause the text to be unreadable to some people as contrast is low. Artistic businesses tend to go for a dark background with light writing and more traditional businesses tend to go for a light background with dark writing.
There are still plenty of options to use plenty of colour in the background by the use of gradients and the colours that exist outside the area where text is present. So this will not make the site look dull and boring.
2. Menu at the Top or on the Left
Whilst sub-menus that list pages of less important can be put down to the bottom of the site or shown on the right hand side, the main navigation menu should always stretch across the screen near the top or appear on the left, also near the top. This is where your customers expect to find it and it it is not in either of these places you will be surprised how many people do not see it.
3. Prominent Contact Details
I have mentioned this in several of my articles and I make no apology for mentioning it again. Most customers who visit your website tend either to be looking for your phone number or for your address. If these are not prominently displayed throughout the site then you should make it obvious where on the site it can be accessed.
4. A Great Looking Design
I know this is obvious. However, how good a site looks is surely an objective thing. The key to getting this right is first impressions. Show people the site and ask them what they think. Everyone forms an opinion as to how good a site looks within a split second.
If their immediate reaction is that it looks great then you know you can trust this reaction as it is how the reaction will be with your customers.
Fri 25 February 2011 17:35:09