In fashion, it is often heard that old styles will one day come back around. Those old styles are often interesting to younger generations, and so the cycle begins anew. These styles can be from pop culture, art or even broader fads like games or objects, but the defining element that makes them new again is the way they are interpreted and shared through the web.
In web design we see a similar paradox in that a web design trend that has been around for decades and may be considered old hat, will always appear new to someone who is using it for the first time. The beauty of intuitive design is that it removes the necessity of understanding trends in web design and patterns in web usage. Intuitive web design is in itself a fundamental principle that underpins the very nature of what it means to be online. It understands that technology is ubiquitous, it listens to our habits and notices how people are influenced and altered by digital communications and visa vera.
Intuitiveness as a human quality is about being in tune with your surroundings, whether that be people, places or culture. It is about being able to be perceived with clarity and that takes a deep knowledge and awareness of your audience.
Intuitive web design is also about clarity. Sometimes it is about moving above and beyond the design trends and fashions that are storming social media and into thinking about substance over style. An intuitive website is one that you can arrive at and move through with ease. It is a place, where what you are looking for, is almost presented to you on a platter. It is web design that is thoughtful and natural.
How can you determine whether your website is intuitive?
Website design is made up of much more than just one person’s skill set. Your website will go from being an idea you conceived to a mock-up design to a quality assured and tested digital product. It is easy to miss things and think that because it’s clear to you what the concept of your business is, that users will also have a firm grasp of your work and brand message. This is not necessarily the case. As a first step, ask yourself the three questions below and then ask a stranger to answer the same three questions.
- Are your contact details accessible?
- Could a user understand your brand/product by looking at your homepage?
- Is the navigation easy to understand?
If the answer to any of the above is no and if your answers don’t align with that of the kind stranger you have involved in this little project, then there is a possibility that your website is constructed in a way that users may find difficult to engage with. The website is not intuitive and might even be counterintuitive, meaning that things work in the opposite way to what a user is either used to or expecting.
Without starting from scratch, there are ways to increase your website’s intuitiveness by rethinking a few small elements.
5 things to consider when approaching intuitive web design
1. Up-to-date features
Website design is full of interesting concepts and ideas, some that have been implemented from the early days of the web, like the classic mouse cursor for example and some that have been incorporated over time, as new devices have been developed and serve as new ways of using the web. We now scroll, swipe and tap our way through the web and your website should be adaptable to this and if possible also flexible to further developments.
Having up-to-date features goes beyond following ‘trends’ and the aesthetic side of things and it considers how the website is being accessed and used on the whole. Being up-to-date could simply mean incorporating a social media feed into your site, to show that your website is living and active and also to provide more info about your company or it could mean including something more technical like micro interactions. UX Design describes the purpose of micro interactions as ‘(existing)….to delight the user; to create a moment that is engaging, welcoming and, dare we say it — human.’
Staying abridge of how people are using the web is a good place to start when considering how intuitive your website is, remembering the key principles of web design.
2. Personalised UX
The success of user experience for a predominantly online business (or one that relies on the web for an aspect of their business) can be measured by how many return visitors the website receives and in turn how well the business performs over time. A user experience that centres on the requirements of the user is crucial when developing an intuitive website. A personalised user experience can be anything from personal-ads relating to what the user has searched for on Google to personal pop-ups, related products and personal login account areas.
Intuitive web design is not about being exploitative and simply forcing information upon people, but it is about considering what kind of user experience would be helpful for that particular person. It is a difficult thing to master when you are relying on machine algorithms not to mess it up for you.
Simple ways to incorporate some personalisation can include a welcome back ‘insert name here’ for returning customers, or a personalised newsletter straight to their inbox.
Illustration is a fantastic way to make sense of complex information on the web. This all helps towards an intuitive site that is easy to use and navigate.
Illustration is a fantastic and almost limitless storytelling tool. You can even personalise characters based on the user and their behaviour on the site. It can help the user to envisage themselves using your products or applying for your services.
As we all know, video is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there. It crams masses of information into a small timeframe and again can help to explain what you do and how you do it, through the power of the visual. Intuitive web design is rooted in ideas of ease of use, simplicity and understanding human behaviours and video is the closest thing to representing real life scenarios and it is a medium we are majoritively most happy engaging with.
5. Use of language
This may seem like the most obvious tip of all, but you would be surprised and perhaps at times horrified by the language chaos we have come across in web content sent over by our clients alone. (No offence!) I am talking ‘language’ in the simplest sense of the word, so before we even consider translated language or even more complex realms of cryptography let’s just think about the words.
Usually people will arrive at your website with a desire in mind, whether that be for a product or a service or just simply to browse. Either way, the language used on the homepage should be as universal as possible ie. help the user to do whatever they want to do, easily, and it should also reflect your digital brand and company voice.
For example, your website menu shouldn’t be full abstract and waffly titles ie: ‘Products > Things that we sell a lot of in the shop’ might be Products>Bestsellers but it might also be ‘Stuff we sell’ if that is the type of language that corresponds well with your company voice.
Most of all make sure that what you are trying to say is clear, concise and to the point, and then users will be able use your site as you intended them to.
If you would like any help introducing intuitive web design concepts into your website then please, get in touch.