Steven Widen Forbes Councils Member Forbes Agency Council Community Voice
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Partner and president at E-Cubed Media Synthesis Inc.
Most people can’t truly multitask. For that reason, good user experience (UX) design is one that gives just enough information to proceed to the next stage. Supply users with too much information and they will most probably “crash.”
For instance, if it’s an app for working out, users probably just want to know the price for membership and what that includes at first. If you start off by explaining exactly how they’ll lose weight and providing success stories, they’ll most likely be annoyed and quit. Keeping it precise and simple is the first principle of good UX design, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Give Users A Sense Of Control
As someone who runs a digital agency that specializes in UX design, automatically playing videos are my pet peeve. They simply aren’t a good thing if you plan to increase your conversion rates. Humans love to be in control. It’s comforting for us. When something unexpected pops up, our primitive intuition senses it as danger, as that’s how we survived the Dark Ages. The moment users sense “danger” on your website, the trust level goes down — and so do your chances of conversion.
How are Facebook videos that play automatically by default so popular, then? The answer to that lies in expectation. People logging on to Facebook are looking for engaging content to share and they expect videos to play automatically. They can also change the default settings, which gives them a sense of control.
Automatically playing videos are a blatant example of snatching control away from your users. It can happen more subtly too; for instance, really long web pages can make users feel lost. One of the solutions to that is sticky menus.
Similarly, push notifications can seem like an infringement of privacy. The problem can be solved by allowing users to choose how they would like to be notified. For instance, in the case of our workout app, you could give your users options of a motivational message with their alarm, a reminder when they are coming back from work or successful cases every week. The idea is to not act too salesy. Instead, make it seem like they are making their own choices.
Keep The F-Pattern In Mind
A Nielsen study that analyzed more than 200 web users across thousands of websites found that most people tend to scan web pages in an F-pattern. They notice the first line of a page before scanning the page vertically, until they find something that catches their interest again to scan horizontally, thus creating an F-pattern.
For that reason, the upper-left corner of your web page should have a strong element, since it will definitely get noticed. Most companies use their logo in the upper-left corner. However, you can always experiment with putting your latest offers there and see how users react.
It is also important to break the monotony in order to keep users interested. Placing differently shaped elements after a few rows is one way to do it. Ads could also work. Avoid using calls-to-action for this purpose, though. They will most likely get ignored, which is never good for your conversion rates.
Recognition Over Recall
Who played the lead in “Kill Bill”? Did Uma Thurman play the lead in “Kill Bill”?
Out of the two questions, which one do you find easier to answer? The second one, right? That’s because it gives you a cue to reach your answer. That’s exactly the reason why multiple-choice questions are easier to answer than open-ended questions. When you are presented with several cues, you can simply pick the information that matches with your memories.
The above example demonstrates the difference between recall and recognition. It is the latter that should be your goal in web design. Recognition helps breed familiarity, which ups your chances of conversion. Showing users their past browsing history is the simplest way to promote recognition in interaction design.
Another example of recognition versus recall in UX design could be the case of tutorials. A lot of mobile apps show a tutorial to educate users on how to best use the app. However, a better way to educate your users is to give them ongoing cues based on the page they are visiting. In the first case, users have to remember information and recall it as they use the app. Of course, they can go back to the tutorial, but that’s just cumbersome. In the second case, they are given constant cues to help them out, which makes the experience smoother. Good user experience design is always about recognition over recall.Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
Apply Hick’s Law
Hick’s Law states that people’s response time increases linearly with the number of options available. Thus, the more choices your users have, the harder it will be for them to reach a decision. Limiting the number of elements in your navigation bar or hyperlinks on your pages is the simplest method of applying Hick’s Law to design. However, it can be extended to other elements of your website or mobile app.
Break the user journey down into phases. In each phase, limit the number of options available to a bare minimum. For instance, when users log on to your website, show them your biggest unique selling point (USP) and eliminate the rest. For returning users, you can show a different version of your homepage by utilizing personalization. This version would take into account their browsing habits and show them the most relevant information. For an e-commerce portal, that could mean showing the best deal on products that a certain set of users would be most interested in.
All of that goes hand-in-hand with rules such as making the browsing experience as comfortable as possible. For instance, for mobile design, you need to consider the position of buttons such that it is easy to browse with the thumb. At the end of the day, though, good UX design is also about A/B testing to figure out what works best with your audience. By applying these three principles and A/B testing to ensure your users are responding to your choices, you can increase conversions and improve the experience users have on your site.