Every new project begins with an education. Just as we at Grafton Studio need to learn all we can about a particular client and their goals, the client needs to understand what we bring to the table, and how our experience informs the decisions we make. This is especially important when it comes to designing the user experience for each project.
UX is informed by testing, repeatedly and with a wide range of users, and will always provide value to the project at hand. Thankfully, the UX field has existed long enough that it has given us a ton of valuable information on how users interact with digital media, websites in particular.
The following is a list of the most common UX misconceptions we’ve encountered in building websites and apps, all of which have been dispelled by extensive user testing and research.
They do. Study after study has revealed that users are very comfortable scrolling down a web page. In fact, they’re more likely to scroll down a long page than clicking through several pages in a series, as in a paginated article. A major data analytics provider reported that 66% of user attention is spent below the fold.
Don’t be afraid to use space to tell your story. In the past, web design was often cluttered, attempting to get all relevant information above the fold. As long as the content is compelling, and the design is inviting, people will instinctively scroll down.
They’re really not though. On the surface, they seem like a clever way to add interactivity to a page while also saving space, but they have an embarrassingly low click-through rate. A large study showed that only 1% of users interacted with a slideshow when presented with one, and most of them only did so on the first slide. Furthermore, several eye tracking tests have shown that users often skip over slideshow content entirely.
Don’t bother with fluff content. Pinpoint your message and serve it up with confidence. If you want to tell a story, consider an image grid, a dynamic scroll, or even a video. Let’s use slideshows in the specific situations where they work well, like showing multiple views of a single object.
Not so much. When web design was just taking off, homepages were often thought to be a virtual storefront. Many assumed that as long as the storefront was inviting, customers would find their way into the store. But websites don’t work that way. Users can enter a site from any page, and studies are showing that homepages are getting less traffic each year. Maybe users are catching on to the idea that a homepage is more of a marketing platform than a place for meaningful content.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. While it’s nice to have an inviting homepage, focus your design efforts on the pages where your most valuable content lives. At Grafton, we design the homepage in parallel with the most substantive subpage for this very reason.
Not when it’s done properly. This is a myth I used to believe in myself, at the beginning of my design career. But I soon learned that good design is more about function than art. Do the elements work well together? Do all the parts fit? The most accurate definition of design I have is “creative problem solving.” In this vein, design should not exist without content, else it runs the risk of being reduced to decoration. In the realm of web design, getting the most out of your designer is in having final content ready at the outset. After all, that is the picture at the center of the frame, and only by having a content-first approach can the final piece work as a whole.
Before starting any web project, know what you want to say. Get your content ready, and use your design team as a medium for translating that content.
But does it really? Maybe it’s a sign of our throwaway culture to junk our websites every two or three years, and do a top-to-bottom redesign. However, time and again we learn how much users hate change. The more practical approach to a tired website is to zero in on the aspects of it that aren’t working, and realign accordingly. The biggest websites in existence rarely do a complete overhaul, but rather make adjustments and corrections as user needs or business goals change. Think Google, YouTube, Amazon, and Apple. These sites don’t get replaced, but evolve in subtle and deliberate ways.
Let your changing goals guide the scope of the design changes you make to your site. If you are upending your business model, then a complete redesign may be warranted. But if you are simply enhancing or improving your business, consider a more targeted strategy. This is a very good reason to think of your design team as an ongoing partner rather than a one-off production house.