When it comes to designing a great website, user experience and an understanding of user behaviour should be the driving force behind each design decision. Even the smallest aspects of your website, without proper planning, can have a dramatic effect on your conversion rates, engagement and user retention. For us, a simple solution comes down to applying a few fundamental UX laws and principles when creating your new website to foster a positive user experience.
We’ll dive into 5 laws of UX, where the insights that are gathered can have a real impact on your website design and user experience.
5 Laws of UX
Hick’s Law states that “the time it takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of options”.
Our brains only have a limited amount of processing power. Websites that present too much information, decisions, details and calls to action in a single view can overload the user’s cognition and risk abandonment as it will exceed their ability to process information efficiently.
It sounds cliché, but just keep things simple. Break up complex tasks and information into smaller chunks; menus should be streamlined to the most important links. But, be careful not to simplify to the point of abstraction. Oversimplifying will leave the user with too little to work with and ultimately cause the opposite problem but with the same outcome.
Fitt’s Law states that “the time to acquire a target is a function of the distance to and size of the target.”
This applies to interactive elements on a website, like buttons, calls to action and form selections. As the size and prominence of these elements increases, the time needed to make an accurate selection goes down and as the distance of the element goes down, the time needed decreases further.
We primarily use Fitt’s Law when developing key calls to action and follow a simple rule. The larger and more noticeable the element and the closer it is to their starting point, the easier it is for the user to find. This shouldn’t be over exaggerated though; the key elements you want users to notice should be as large as is appropriate with the amount of space you have available, so ensure a careful balance is retained.
Jakob’s Law states that “users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know.”
Thinking outside the box can be great. Novel design elements and interesting layouts can positively improve user experience and engagement. However, it’s often not worth reinventing the wheel. Consistency is one of the most powerful usability principles, and expectations for your website are based on what’s commonly done on other websites. If you deviate too far from this and use unfamiliar or confusing design patterns, your site will inevitably be harder to use.
Standard design patterns and conventions are tried and tested; there’s a reason most websites use them. Be mindful of the learning curve a user may need to undertake when using your website and opt to create better user experiences where users can focus on their primary tasks rather than learning new models.
Put simply, Occam’s Razor states that “the simplest solution is almost always the best one”.
It’s all too easy to get a bit carried away when designing a website. Websites can be very complicated with a lot of functionality and information. So, when faced with this, designers can end up creating sites that are more difficult to use, build and maintain by simply overthinking and bloating the site with unnecessary “noise”.
You may add what you believe are great elements in an effort to improve the messaging, add design flair, give the user lots to read and digest. But remember to take a step back and ask yourself if it’s essential to what you’re trying to achieve. Deconstruct your website design and aim to remove anything that doesn’t add value or improve the experience, without compromising the functionality and key messaging.
The Von Restorff Effect
The Von Restorff effect (also known as the isolation effect) states that “when multiple similar objects are present, the one that differs from the rest is most likely to be remembered.”
While consistency in designing content, features and layouts is recommended, sometimes we want the user to notice or remember particular parts over others. Giving these a distinguishing feature will allow it to stand out from the crowd and therefore more likely to be remembered or interacted with.
As an example, when looking at pricing tables there always seems to be one option that is highlighted as the “best value”, or “recommended package”. This is the Von Restorff effect in action – by adding a level of contrast and difference to this pricing option, users are more likely to remember or be drawn to this one.
Why is UX Important?
The laws of UX and following these principles generally is an essential mindset for any website designer, allowing you to empathise and understand your users a little better. Good UX can have a huge impact on conversion rates, so follow these laws of UX to improve their user experience on your site and drive the results you’re aiming for.
Choose a web design company that applies the laws of UX to your website and ultimately gets you the results you want. Take a look at our case studies to see our work for yourself or get in touch with us today to talk about your project.