User-centric design involves designing the website keeping the users as the top priority. The idea appears so simple, yet it is so difficult to implement. It takes thorough research, tests, and loads of experience to achieve ideal results.
Although it is almost impossible to explain everything about designing user-centric websites in one blog post, we have summarised some key takeaways below:
- Use colours to draw attention, group items, show status, and to get attention.
For a minimalist and aesthetic design, limit the number of colours on the same webpage to five.
- Provide feedback to users for situations such as
-wrong data entry
-long response time (highly recommended if users will have to wait for more than four seconds)
-needing user approval for further progress.
Balance the frequency of feedback given to users. Although it is informative, giving feedback too often (either by two-step interaction or dialogue) interrupts the user experience. In giving feedback, use professional and positive language that is not blaming users.
- Be careful in using default values.
Don’t use them unless you are sure that they don’t pose a risk of selecting the wrong options.
- Use simple and to-the-point metaphors.
Select metaphors that users are most familiar with. This is especially important when there is age diversity among users. For example, an old-style TV set or a wired phone may not be good metaphors for young users. The usage of mobile phones and flat-screen TV images will be more appropriate in this case.
Balance usability with performance. Using too many metaphors may result in performance problems. Don’t forget that the maximum tolerable waiting time for users is two seconds.
- Ask for approval of critical transactions such as adding, deleting, or modifying high-priority data.
- Don’t treat users as subscribers by requesting too much personal information at the beginning of an interaction with them.
For example, don’t ask for detailed information for an online membership to your website if that information is not really needed. If you need detailed user data for CRM (customer relationship management) purposes, then reward your users or at least tell them about the future benefits of providing accurate data (e.g., loyalty programs). Otherwise, users fill in those fields randomly with incorrect data, and your database soon becomes garbage.
- People divide information into chunks.
Thus group content such as menu items instead of listing them one under the other. In chunking content, remember that the ideal number of items in a group is four.
- Make high-priority tasks and content highly visible.
People are impatient. They stop interaction if they can’t find what they are looking for after four or more clicks.
- Build a good first impression on the landing page.
People judge products mostly based on their first impression.
- Reduce the busyness and complexity of the website by using white spaces.
White spaces are also helpful in separating web components and chunks of information.
- Don’t use radio buttons for more than five options. Instead, use a select menu.
- Don’t use abbreviations unless you are sure that the users know them.
However, if an abbreviation is more straightforward for users compared to what it represents, then keep using it. This situation was witnessed at a bank. The bank changed the menu name from EFT (electronic funds transfer) to Money Transfer to Another Bank on their Internet banking interfaces. A considerable number of customers who were accustomed to the EFT menu label transfer the money and complained about this problem. The bank had to change the menu label back to EFT again.
- Include search functionality.
Around a third of all users are search-oriented. For instance, instead of directly entering a website’s URL on the browser, these users search for that website on search engines and navigate through the links listed on search results. Similarly, this kind of user looks for a search box on any application to search for an item or function instead of navigating through the menus of the website.
However, in most applications, search functionality does not work as it’s intended. Users cannot find some of the items or functions they are looking for, although they exist somewhere in the application. To prevent this failure, search boxes should not be used unless they work with high accuracy as search engines do.
Do not create a memory workload on users.
Users should not be forced to remember the details of their interactions on previous websites they have visited. The product should remind the users of the information that they need. For example, if a user got a discount code on an online shopping site, it should be automatically displayed in the checkout process, in case the user selects the option of paying with a discount code.