Users have short—very short—attention spans. That’s probably evident just looking through your website analytics. This makes it more important than ever to deploy design techniques that help users scan and get the most information from your website in the shortest time possible.
It is your job to understand what users need to glean from the design at a glance and help them get that information, so maybe they’ll stick around and explore your website. Here are a few ways to do it!
1. Think Minimally
A design without a lot of choices can be quick and easy for the user. While at first, “think minimally” might make you think about a minimal design style, it’s more about streamlining elements and effects. (But a minimal design pattern can work as well.)
Overall, the goal is to limit information overload and the number of decisions a user has to make to meet the goal of the design.
- Keep navigation simple with a handful of choices.
- Use simple typefaces that are easy to read at a glance.
- Amp up the contrast between elements so that calls to action are easy to find.
- For every page, or scroll, in the design, stick to a single thought or action.
- Goal conversions – carts, forms, etc. – should be accessible at all times.
2. Encourage Action with Visual Content
Strong visuals, including photography and videos, are an easy way to grab user attention and when paired with an actionable element, it can help generate an immediate click.
Getting from Point A to B in a design should be a quick process. Think about it in terms of e-commerce. A user sees a pair of shoes on social media, clicks to get to the website and must then be able to see the item (or how to find it immediately) to keep interacting with the website.
A time-saving design would show the shoes with a button to buy now. The user can what they want and how to get it without having to fumble through multiple pages or clicks. Here’s another tip with it comes to saving user time with visuals – use the same image for off-site and on-site promotions. A different picture of those same shoes might not register as quickly with the user as the same image.
This works because most people can process an image more quickly than reading words that “say” the same thing. A website is a visual medium; make the most of it.
3. Break Complicated Elements into Pieces
Create a story so that you can break a complicated design down into smaller, more digestible pieces. Smaller blocks or chunks of content can be easier to understand quickly, helping users move from element to element.
Try user interface elements such as “read more” links, card-style blocks and parallax scrolling animation to create engagement and break down complicated designs.
4. Cut Down Forms
One of the easiest ways to make the design quicker for users is to cut down on asking for information that you don’t need. Forms don’t have to ask for layers of information.
- Only ask essential information, such as name and email address, and follow up later for forms designed to generate leads.
- Use forms that validate data so users know if they’ve entered something wrong (and where) so corrections are quick and easy.
- Minimize typing and use buttons or checkboxes in forms where applicable. (This is especially time-saving for mobile users.)
- Don’t ask for repetitive data, such as the type of credit card and credit card number. (The card type is recognizable from the number.)
5. Design Bold CTAs
Make the design quick to use and easy to finish with a bold call to action design that users can’t miss.
Bright colors and elements that are oversized can help users see what they are supposed to do with the design immediately. Further, provide content within buttons that tells users exactly what to do and what will happen when they “click here.”
In order to be seen, a CTA should have plenty of contrast so that it doesn’t blend in with surrounding elements and draws attention to itself. (And don’t forget to make sure the CTA is easy to find on mobile screens as well.)
6. Edit, Edit, Edit
Nothing saves users time, like doing your due diligence before publication. Edit everything in the website design and then edit it again. A time-saving website design has written copy that’s easy to read and understand.
This means that words are free of spelling errors or typos, sentences use proper syntax, grammar, and sentence structure. And everything is organized in a logical manner.
Sometimes a good edit means bringing in a third party to read everything and ensure it makes sense to someone else. An extra set of eyes can help you understand where hidden errors lurk or if the content is too packed with too much jargon for the general reader.
You can also try using a tool such as Grammarly to check spelling and posts in your CMS as you prepare to publish new content.
7. Be Consistent
A consistent design includes repeated elements, actions, and interactions that work in the exact same way throughout the design. Simply, that means that a button should always look like a button, have the same color and font, same hover state and work in the exact same way no matter where the button leads the user.
Repeat this idea for any element in the design that gets used multiple times, such as icons, the cart, forms, links and social media buttons.
Be consistent with other elements as well. Headlines and body text and image usage should also follow a consistent style. (This is why defining elements and styles in the CSS and then using appropriate tags is vital.)
That consistency makes every page of your website design look like it belongs. The user never has to guess or experiment to figure out how something works.
Quick. Click. Done.
That’s probably the most common user pattern around. Whether users think about it or not, they are looking to do things in a hurry on your website, finish tasks or meet goals and move on to something else. The more your design works with users to save them time while accomplish goals, the more user-friendly it will be.