is website perfection achievable?
Nowadays, the number of websites available for both companies and individuals is vast, with visitors judging every site within seconds. In such a cluttered environment you need to make your website stand out for all the right reasons.
It may be an over-used phrase but it’s true that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and when you’re trying to design the perfect website you need to establish who the beholder is and what they find beautiful. Research is being carried out into a new branch of aesthetics called neuro-aesthetics, which attempts to explain through scientific means why everyone sees things differently.
Organisations should step away from their brand and look through the consumer’s eyes. Too many companies think ‘what shall we give our audience?’, when they ought to be thinking ‘why should they care?’ These are the elements that need to be reflected in a website, which is why web designers endeavour to tap into the heart and soul of users when developing a new site.
Here are a few areas worth considering…
The first websites built were full of colour, flashing images and garish themes, in the misguided hope that visitors were like virtual magpies and only interested in the ‘shiniest’ of sites. Over time, designers began to understand that consumers wanted as little colour as possible. Too much made visitors feel crowded and claustrophobic within a site. Now that polychromatic website designs are being used, more websites are thriving with bold colours, Windows 8 being a particularly vibrant example.
A strong use of colour can certainly enhance brand recognition but it’s worth considering the psychology of colour as well. Every colour has its own meaning, with some colours suiting certain businesses and sectors more than others, e.g. the likelihood of a relaxing spa website having a red themed website is minimal, red is often associated with danger and urgency, not something you’d want to convey for a relaxing spa retreat.
To design the best website possible you need to be truly empathetic, no that doesn’t mean you have to sit down and cuddle your clients, but rather understand where your target audience comes from and what they want, blurring the lines between self and other. When done correctly, this can allow you to view your website from your client’s point of view, understanding their needs and allowing your site to target them a lot more effectively.
In the 2013 Festival of Marketing, David Oliver spoke at ‘Jump’, he stated that a person’s actions are influenced by those around them and humans are vulnerable to making instinctive decisions based on what others are doing/saying. This intrinsic human nature can be linked into the psychological triggers used in websites. Consumers are said to be drawn to the colours of a website before they’re drawn to movement, they are also naturally drawn to horizontal lines
How do you read a website? Have you even thought about how you’re reading this page right now? The average consumer will read website pages from the top left to top right, then down diagonally to the bottom left, like a ‘z’.
Users’ eyes will naturally move to specific sections of the website automatically. However, breadcrumb trails can be left to control where users’ eyes are drawn to within the website. Web designers should place the most important pieces of information in the most visible areas of the website.
Last but not least, and one of the most important aspects of building a psychologically sound website, is ‘breathing room’ (white space). Not enough breathing room, makes readers feel claustrophobic, and makes the page appear busy.
Consumers, as a result, can’t find the relevant information, leaving the website with a high bounce rate, in other words they don’t stay round for long.
Combining empty space with styled content can give you control.
Encouraging your visitors to look at certain things and take desired actions.
There will never be a set-in-stone rulebook for creating the perfect website, designs and opinions are constantly changing. Scientists will be developing new research on a daily basis, and consumers’ minds will be constantly adapting and changing with them. The trick is to not only keep up to date, but also to keep it relevant. Focus on your target audience and what they would want from a website, then you’re one step closer to perfection.
Written by the not-quite-perfect-but-working-on-it Claire Fisher, SEO Account Executive.