All the ultimate guides and how-to articles you see about website design all relied on user interaction. The content, usability, and design of a website must elicit a set of feelings from your visitors about you. These feelings, then, influences whether they trust you or not.
As designers, we must understand how positive and negative feelings arise from our work. Like all creative projects in marketing, our first priority is to advocate for the user. What about our layout makes it hard for them to navigate the website? Is our content readable? Does our color palette make our website look confused? It might sound overwhelming now, but the key to this is understanding the user psyche.
Indeed, the psychology of online visitors can guide website designers in making effective design decisions that should:
- Entice visitors to stay on your website
- Encourage them to interact with all its elements
- Convert them to subscribers or paying customers
Start with looking at patterns
Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of user psychology, we must get in the right mindset first. What we need to do to understand our own unique audience is to pick at their brains. We have to look at their behavior when they are online, not just in navigating our website. This will become the foundation of a strategy called neurodesign.
Briefly, neurodesign is a method that will allow you to determine the triggers behind different customer experiences to help you make better, more informed design decisions. This is an amalgamation of how they interact with your existing page, the unique customer behavior you are getting, and general behavioral trends.
This is why some website owners like taking advantage of website templates. Not just because of the convenience, but because these are usually created with these patterns in mind.
Now, let us explore how we can use these patterns and when we can tweak them to create an effective website.
The good news is that there is an easy way to recognize patterns in the general online behavior of users. This involves something called the ‘adaptive toolbox’, according to The Next Web. This is an approach we can use when we are pressed for time, have limited resources and information, and still need to make important decisions.
What it requires of us is to look into our experience, as well as what we already know or have already experienced before — this is out o the adaptive toolbox. Then, we must check whether there are similarities from our previous experience to this new situation we are faced with.
Just by constantly using the Web gives us a plethora of experiences as a user and a designer. When we do this, we must be able to see new trends and elements on today’s website and try to match that with what we already know. This technique should make functionality and usability fairly easy since we do not have to anticipate a change in online behavior or assume that they have changed at all. It is a shortcut, yes, but it is still an informed decision.
Common website design patterns
To add to your adaptive toolbox, here are the most common website design patterns which you can use to adapt or tweak on your website.
Taking advantage of the hero banner
A lot of websites, especially e-commerce sites, are making use of the hero banner. This is the huge image you see when you land on a website, which comes with a catchy headline, a subheadline, a two- or three-sentence description, and a call-to-action button.
The great thing about this is you are able to put your value proposition at the most prominent place on your homepage. Your visitors will know immediately what it is you are offering them, so they can decide quickly whether they want to know more or not.
A clean and simple layout
These days, simplicity in your layout is more aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly. It cuts unnecessary time on the visitor’s side to figure out where they should go to find the information they need. Consider the following elements of a simple and effective layout.
- Creating a responsive website
To adapt to the growing number of people who use tablets and smartphones more than they do desktops, a responsive website design is imperative. Not to mention, Google has made mobile adaptiveness key criteria in ranking a website.
- Navigation items
This will be easy to do if you keep your website layout simple. Consider limiting the items on your navigation tab to at most six clickable pages, with minimal inner pages. Hick’s Law suggests that the more options you give your users, the more time it takes for them to decide what they want to do on your website. This, in turn, increases the risk of bounce rates because there are just too many decisions that need to be made on a single page.
- Concise text
Apart from using targeted keywords seamlessly, you can optimize your content on your homepage by being concise with your copy. Try targeting a maximum of 300 words only for the homepage. This should already include your introductory copy, teasers, social proofing, and so on. You do not want bricks of thick texts on your homepage since you will most likely have landing pages ready to expound on what your value propositions.
- Fonts and colors
For your text, choose a Sans Serif font style for your body text, with a font size 12-16 pts. so that it is readable.
- Match loud colors with neutral colors
The same principle applies when you are designing your logo: make sure all the colors create a harmonious and cohesive look. The definition of loud colors here are everything but white, grey, and black. You must limit your loud colors to, at most, three hues. Then match this with one of two neutral colors like white or grey so that the eyes have a chance to rest.
- Negative space
This is the breathing room of your images and text, an area that is intentionally left empty. The advantage of negative space or white space is it helps to highlight the most important elements on your website. An empty space directs the eye to these elements, giving your users a clear path to conversion.
Updating the patterns
These common website design patterns are not fixed and must be broken to see what else can work for users. When breaking patterns, consider the triggers behind the patterns. Do users still like short texts or is does this only apply for the homepage? How about for blog articles, what length do they respond the most? Adapt to these and change the patterns so that it fits your website needs.