Web Design / Time rules
As a Web designer or a owner/manager of a company building a new web site, you will be combing over every fine element hundreds of times. That is an important part of the process, but it is equally important not to lose site of the goal of creating maximum user experience on your website. We spend hours upon hours criticizing whether logo should be ½ centimeter to left or this icon should be higher etc etc… Sometimes it better to stop, close your eyes, go the home page and use the time rules. The Time rules are simple and concise.
Part One: 3-5 seconds.
In the first three to five seconds the user will form an opinion about the professionalism, trustworthiness and overall pleasure of the company. This where a good web designer earns his/her pay. So Let’s do an exercise. Open a browser, let the home page load, count to five, and answer the following questions as if you had never seen the website prior to now.
1. Was the website professional and clean?.. pictures..colors..branding
2. What size company did the web site portray?
3. What was the one branding/messaging that was most prevalent?
4. Would an existing loyal customer recognized the site as being the same company
He or she does business with everyday?
5. Would a prospective customer relate the web site to the product or service it is known for?
6. Did the website have a positive or negative rating overall? Give reasons.
Part Two: 7-10 seconds.
The second crucial timing as to whether a website is successful at its goals are in the seven to ten second range. After a user has created an opinion towards the company, the user needs to be able to find information. The information will be different depending on the company or purpose of the site. A user of a news site, for example, would be looking for the hottest, new story of the day. A user of a law office might be looking for types of law they practice or a list of lawyers at the firm. This is where things like, navigation, featured areas, contact information seen clearly in the banner, and live help applications help in making sure the user finds information. If the user does not find how to get to the information in this critical window, he/she will most certainly click the back button and go to a competitor’s website. The vast majority of objectives, relative to what information a user is looking for, should be covered in the site planning portion of the website design. Having a good Site Map and a description of featured areas on the home page prior to site design is critical. Once it gets in the designers hands it is often too late to fix major missing objectives.
After the site design process the website designer plays a key role in prioritizing objectives with page placement and size. Also navigation is cricitical in making sure users find information. Ready for the exercise? First determine what specific information you are interested in finding. You may have 3-4 major things your website should be able to do. That is fine, do this exercise 3 separate times and each time look for one of those things. Once you have a target, open a browser count to ten while navigating for that information. Now Answer the following questions.
Was it natural to find the information?
Did it require thought or translation in terminology to find the information? Did the site use the correct wording for the item a common user would know?
Was the information obvious?
Repeat these questions for all major types of information users would be searching for on your site. Understand you can’t satisfy every user so use common sense and the 80/20 rule (80 target the major 80% of users in the major search) and let minor information and expansive information be more of a drill down option.
Hopefully this will help you gauge the success of your new web design and realize that its not completely about overanalyzing every space on the web site, but being a success to the user in a certain timeline. If you have any questions or would like us to consult on your website go to addisontech.com and contact us. And yes you can try the time rules on our web site and give us feedback if you like. :)