‘Keep it simple, stupid’ is old advice but it never dates. Here are four pieces of research that show the importance of keeping your website simple. Consider them when you’re designing a website or checking the quality of a website designer.
- The Norman Nielsen Group, who know more abour website usability than anybody on the planet, have found that 79% of users scan an unfamiliar page. Therefore the key elements of the site and the reasons to stay must be instantly obvious. It must conform to design conventions as many users will not take the time to try to understand an innovative design.
- Specifically on the text, the Norman Nielsen Group found that the use of bullets, subheadings and highlighted words to break up the text led to a 47% increase in usability, because it made the text easier to scan. So, whatever you do, avoid avoid large blocks of text.
- Staying with the words, write your copy in a neutral manner. There’s a 27% increase in usability if objective rather than promotional sales language is used. So avoid offputting words like ‘fantastic’ and ‘wonderful’ and stick to the facts.
- People are spending more time accessing the internet on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets than on desktops and laptops. According to OfCom research earlier this year, 57% of people in the UK use one to access internet. Research by Nielsen in the USA supports this. They found adults spend 34 hours per month accessing internet on smartphone as opposed to 27 hours on pc. The lesson is that your site must be responsive to different devices. More than that, you should actually start with the smartphone and tablet designs and work your way up to the PC version. A lot of designers won’t like this because they love creating a design on their big Apple Mac screens. It’s no bad thing that the use of mobile devices is driving us to make websites simpler and easier to use.