Making Websites Useful with Logical User Interface Design
Today's lesson, kiddies, is how to focus your thoughts and create a logical design that prioritizes the will and desire of the user. When they come to your page, what are they expecting to see? What do they want to do first? What reason are they there?
Put yourself in their shoes.
You are building a site for a restaurant. Why would someone come to a website for a restaurant? Think of the reasons:
They want to make reservations
They want to find out how to get there
They want to find out what kinds of things they serve
They want to buy food online
They want to compare prices
List out the reasons, and then order them by importance relative to the company in question. Work from the majority to the minority of visitors. Is this Manuel's Mexican Food? Well, because of the name, we know it's probably a safe bet that the visitors already know what kind of food is served, so we know that we can move that down the list of priorities. The establishment doesn't take reservations, except for large parties, which it does get a lot of requests for. Information front and center about large party reservation would be extremely useful in many cases.
Make important things more front and center.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but as I look around the web, I continue to notice examples of simple design hierarchy being forgotten. And I'm not just talking about a pyramid-style layout hierarchy. Again, you should be designing in the context of what your website represents.
Does your site contain a large wealth of information not easily categorized? Why is your search function a tiny box in the top right corner, then? Is Manuel's Mexican food buried in a small cove of a strip mall? Then why is this information at the bottom of the Contact page in .3em type?
People don't usually come to your website to see your website. They come to find information. Give them the easiest access to that information.
Offer the ability to customize sorting information to a ridiculous degree.
I'm a culprit of this currently, but I recognize it as an issue with my own site: Never take for granted a user's desire to sort, filter and otherwise thin down a wealth of information into something more manageable. The more metrics you can offer, the better. The web is, and has always been, about sharing information. If people aren't able to filter through what they don't want to cull out what they do, then it's not working.
Going back to the Restaurant (and this is something I rarely see even on high-end food sites), what if you offered people the ability to sort a menu by price, nutritional information, ingredients, and so forth. You create an extremely valuable tool for the consumer to find exactly what they want.
Just keeping these simple things in mind when designing the structure of your site can increase its usefulness, and in turn, its success to a demonstrable degree. And if you can demonstrate that you make sites that are useful as well as handsomely designed, that can only bode well for your prospects.
Tags: design, user interface, web, logical, usability, user experience
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