There are many modern web development/design techniques that can be used for a variety of reasons, whether to maintain a certain colour scheme throughout the site, or to make the site responsive to all devices. The possibilities are vast and companies will go a long way to ensure their site will not only appeal to a large number of people, but that it can also be used by as many people as possible.
User Experience in web design is the process of improving user satisfaction by making the user feel comfortable and confident when using a website. It covers the interface design, the usability of the site, the product design and the level of interaction that can be had with the site. There are many techniques used to achieve a good user experience; Peter Morville covers these in his User Experience Honeycomb.
He expresses that, for the user to have a fulfilling and valuable user experience, information on a website must be:
- Useful: The content should have an element of originality and should fulfil the needs of the user. If the site is not useful then there is no need for it.
- Usable: The site must be straightforward to use. It should possess a familiarity trait that allows it to be easy to use for different audiences. There shouldn’t be much of a learning curve if possible.
- Desirable: For a great user experience, the design should impress the user and be easy on the eye. Minimal designs that are straight to the point are beneficial in this instance.
- Findable: Content should be easily navigable and involve as few clicks as possible. And, if the user does encounter a problem they should be able to find a solution quickly.
- Accessible: Content should be accessible for as many different types of people as possible, e.g. people with disabilities. They should be able to have the same experience as those without disabilities.
- Credible: The information on the site must be trust worthy and accurate.
User Experience is paramount to an effective and successful website. Users can be quickly lost and gained, so all aspects of website design must be taken into consideration. For instance, Dr. Nielsen conducted a study on the reading behaviours of users on his website. Nielson found that only 28% of the text on a webpage gets read. This suggests that information should be easy to digest. Common techniques that are used include dividing the information into smaller paragraphs and adopting the use of headings lists and pictures to ensure users will be more readily engaged and for longer. (See Test results below)
Google conducted a study that indicated that it takes users less than 50 milliseconds to form an opinion of a website, and a website’s colour scheme is a significant part of that. Decisions around colour are, therefore, an important factor that can influence whether a user is going to stay engaged on a website or instantly click away. If a user dislikes the colour scheme, regardless of how useful the site’s content is, they can be inclined to leave the site never to return. Common techniques are to use colours that complement each other. The colour wheel (see below) is a useful resource for web designers when picking a colour scheme for their sites. Companies with extensive websites prefer to have a consistent colour scheme in order to maintain their brand identity; show someone a screenshot of any Facebook page and people will know exactly what website it is. The same applies for Amazon or Wikipedia.
Ben Lacey writes that websites should maintain a high level of consistency in their design. A consistent design means that users will not get confused when navigating the site, and that the common user interface elements (Site Navigation, Logo, etc) are found in the same place. Lacey says that this results in users spending more time engaging with the site rather than working out how to use it. Lacey goes on to point out that when the same website is being used on a mobile device for example, the navigation of the site is probably going to change, as well as other elements. But a consistent design should allow for users to still be aware that they are on the same site when switching between devices. Research shows that consistent designs are also used to create a brand identity, a good website is memorable to the users. By creating a theme and sticking to it, you help reassure users and make them more likely to remember you and visit again, increasing your sites traffic. A final reason for why developers use consistent designs is that they can refer to the same single stylesheet rather than having to create a stylesheet for every page, that would take more time and would be more expensive.