Travel with me to a corner of the web that’s frozen in time: The Space Jam website. A place you would have been delighted to visit as a child growing up in the 90’s, yet will probably get a headache from visiting today. Pack some ibuprofen for this one.
This site is part of a rare breed of 90’s websites that are alive and kicking, including such fossils as CNN’s O.J. Simpson Trial webpage, the Welcome to Netscape site, and the 1996 Dole/Kemp campaign page. Browsing these sites reminds us of how far web design has come. Back then you could take or leave a website, yet today, many businesses operate entirely online and the effectiveness of a web user’s experience can make or break that business. Here are a few key factors that go into making that user experience effective.
Gone In 15 Seconds
Tony Haile, the CEO of Chartbeat (a web analytics company), wrote a great article for Time Magazine on current web usage. He discovered that less than 55% of people spend 15 seconds on your webpage. Space Jam had the luxury of counting on people hanging around exploring their insanely patterned galaxy of a website for however long without having to worry about that distracting Facebook notification. Sure, a beeper might go off, but the phone was all the way in the kitchen, so that could wait. In 2015, you have seconds to entice someone to click, call, signup, or subscribe, so the following points better be well-addressed on your site to achieve that action you’re seeking.
Your Website Is Their Experience, Not Yours
If you want to make a website tailored to your taste, go open a MySpace profile. If you want to see profits, tailor the experience and design of your website to the user and their needs. What type of user will land on your site? What is that type of user seeking to do, find, or learn at your site? What is the best possible way to make that happen? Lindsey touched on these and some additional points in her latest post, check it out.
Keep It Simple Stupid (K.I.S.S.)
This point is simple (or simply impossible to grasp for some). Keep your website clean and well-spaced. A website crammed with images, text, and graphics is illegible, ineffective, and downright annoying. Your message must be clear and the user’s next step needs to be stupidly obvious… nothing else should compete or distract from that main call to action.
Understand the F-Pattern… Embrace the F-Pattern
We westerners read from left to right and top to bottom. It’s how we learned to read books and our brains apply the same logic to interacting with a website. As seen above, the F-Pattern is the result of heat-mapping, an analytics technique that tracks the interaction of visitors on a specific website. Most of us start viewing a website at the top-left, move along horizontally at the top, then move through that same pattern down the site. As we scroll down the page, we gradually decrease the amount we actually read and interact with. It’s no coincidence that web design has standardized the structure of logo and navigation at the top, and primary content in the immediately visible top regions of the site. Though the concept of “the fold” (top 600 pixels of the screen) applies less and less in a mobile landscape, the fact remains that a clear call-to-action and most crucial info should appear towards the top of your site.
See Also: Experience
TL;DR (Too long; didn’t read)
Your website is your pick-up line to your potential client. Would you really open dialog with a potential date by reading them a dang resume? Exactly! Keep the amount of content, and especially copy/text to a minimum. If you craft that pick-up line well enough, you won’t have to say a whole lot to get someone interested in clicking, subscribing, following, or purchasing. Invest in professional copywriting that’ll hit all the right points in short, but effective way.
If You Remember Anything, Remember This…
Define your user. Identify what they’ll do on your website. Decide how to best execute that goal. Tailor all calls to action, photography, design, layout, and copywriting to achieve that goal. Everything else is distracting and unnecessary. Get those points right, and your website’s user experience will be a SLAM DUNK!
That was so cheesy… but I had to end on a Space Jam-related note.