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Common Web Design Myths

For a business to succeed it needs a quality website. There are many opinions on what makes a website successful, and with all of those opinions come a lot of misconceptions about best practices and usability. It’s easy to get confused, but that’s where we come in. We want to take time to debunk five of the most common myths we frequently hear.

Five Common Website Design Misconceptions

Myth #1: Users Don’t Scroll

This myth actually started out as true. Back in the 90’s when the Internet was still fairly new, users were not used to the concept of scrolling, so they were much more likely to look at a website and choose from the options they could see rather than scrolling to find more. As time has passed and the Internet has become an integral part of most people's day-to-day lives, scrolling has become a natural action. A study done by one design agency Huge, showed that even if users are not prompted to scroll, they scrolled to the very bottom of the page almost every single time, whether they were prompted to or not.

This doesn’t mean that you are free to put content wherever you want on the page though. It is important to determine a solid hierarchy for your content, placing key information towards the top of your page and then have website design elements that will help direct users down your page to additional content.

Users do scroll on websites

Myth #2: Rotating Carousels

Born out of the need to fit as much content as possible “Above-the-Fold”, rotating carousels could once be found on what seemed like every website. Up until 2015, 52% of e-commerce sites still featured a rotating carousel on their homepage (source). In theory, carousels sound like a great idea: rather than fitting a single message at the top of the page, you can fit many and you don’t have to give up any more page real estate. In reality, most users are not going to sit and watch all of the slides rotate through. In fact, only about 1% of users click on rotating carousels at all, and the majority of those clicks were on the first slide (source).

In addition, many people think that the automatic movement will draw users attention but really, the movement will cause most users to skip over the content entirely because of the phenomenon known as banner blindness. To solve this issue, it is important for companies to decide what their most important message is and put the focus on that at the top of the page, there will always be room throughout the site to fit any other important messages the user might need.

Myth #3: Whitespace is a Waste of Space

Many businesses consider whitespace (or negative space) a waste of valuable screen real estate, but that empty space around elements on your website is a crucial part of what makes your website usable and visually appealing. When used correctly, it helps guide your users through the page. According to research by Human Factors International, increasing the spacing in and around your text can actually increase user comprehension by 20% (source). Whitespace also helps to guide users through the page and helps to build focal points.

Adding a slight amount of padding around your call-to-action will help guide the user’s eye toward it, making them more likely to interact with it. In addition to these benefits, whitespace can also help your website design feel more sophisticated and polished, allowing your content to “speak for itself” without the addition of unnecessary visual elements.

Whitespace is good for web design

Myth #4: The Three Click Rule of Web Design

The three click rule is an unofficial web design rule that all content on your site should be accessible in three clicks or less. The rule is based on the thought that a user will become frustrated and leave your site if they have not found their desired content within three clicks. While you shouldn’t go hiding content ten clicks down on your site, research has shown that users stayed equally as satisfied, whether their task took them three clicks or twenty (source).

Rather than focusing on how many clicks it is taking the user to reach their goal, focus on how productive each click is going to be for the user in reaching their goal, keeping in mind that “Every click or interaction should take the user closer to their goal while eliminating as much of the non-destination as possible.” - Breaking the Law: The 3 Click Rule. As long as a user feels like they are making progress towards their end goal, they will continue to work towards it.

Myth #5: You Must Redesign Your Website Frequently

A lot of our clients come to us looking to fully redesign their website. While this is certainly the right step to take if your website is completely out of step with your business or using very dated technology, it can actually be harmful to completely redo your site unnecessarily every few years. In addition to the cost and time commitment, it is important to remember that in general, users hate change. You may grow tired of some parts of your site over time, but that is probably because you spend a lot of time looking at it. On the other hand, your sites’ users are spending a relatively small amount of time on your site and they don’t grow as tired of the design as you might. Making large UI updates and design changes can make it harder for users to complete their tasks and can result in your user's feeling frustrated and leaving your site.

Rather than making one large update every few years, focus on making smaller updates more consistently as you find things that need to be changed. Looking at your sites analytics and how users are actually interacting with your site can be extremely helpful for determining what parts of your site may need a slight update. Keep in mind that users don’t always end up using your site the way that you had imagined or planned they would, so making these small updates can lead to a better user experience and happier users overall. By doing this it is not uncommon for the websites we create a Plaudit to not only last 5+ years, but actually become more effective with age.

When you are looking to improve your web presence do so with a clear purpose and goals in mind. Always ask "Why?" and start with the problem being solved. By doing this you will be purposeful with your webstie redesign — or enhancement — and avoid costly mistakes.

Redesign your website

What’s Next

There are still many more web design myths out there, and as technology continues to develop and change, so will web design and what the best practices are. It can be overwhelming and confusing trying to keep up with everything. It is important to find a web design team that you can trust to keep your website up-to-date, leading to a better user experience and a stronger connection with your brand.

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