Having a website is integral today. Websites are everywhere. However, most websites aren’t built in a way that is particularly eye-catching or well designed, making them distracting for a viewer and easy to click away from. This defeats the purpose of having a website in the first place, if no one is going to spend any time on it. Below are ten tips drawn from eye-tracking studies for building an appealing website that will encourage people to stick around for a while and visit it in the future.
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F-Shaped Web Content Patterns
Everything has sped up thanks to the internet, including how people absorb and process content. According to a number of eye tracking studies, web users read horizontally along the top part of the page, then move down the page a bit to create a second horizontal movement and then finally in a vertical movement. This makes an “F” like-shape the majority of the time. So if your website is particularly text heavy, you may want to lay out your text in this fashion for easier reading for your visitors. Read more about this on NNGroup.com.
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Types of Photos to Use
Websites should definitely have photos in most cases, though viewers pay attention to more photos than others. According to Nielsen Norman Group real photos of real people are always viewed seriously so the more of these that are on a page in a natural way the better. Stock photos, or photos that are clearly stock photos are usually ignored or skipped. Photos with product details right beneath then are also good, as it gives people something to reference with the photo and makes them spend more time on the page. This is also the case for captions. Big photos are also good and make people stick around longer. However, you also need to take into account the disk space and bandwidth with these bigger and better photos for load times on your page. A great web host to deal with issue can be found through this list of web host reviews on VirtualHosting.com.
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Guide from Image to Image
If you want users to read certain text, then put it before the photos, because most people on a page will look at the photos first. Or if you want the text to work with the photos, make a lot of space between the photos and the text so they can complement each other. Or put a mix of large and small photos on a web page so that readers will be drawn between these photos and then take the time to focus on the text in between. Look here for more information.
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Cool Fonts and Big, Bold Lettering
Using clear lettering on your web page will grab visitors’ attention. This is where a true creative muscle is exercised, like someone picking a logo for a product or brand. What will initially trigger the interest of someone to stop on your site over all the others out there, or on that particular web page. Fonts and their placement can often do this—however, the quality of the content is what will make them stick around.
Push Your Ads to the Side
Most people have been found to ignore ads. However, they are most drawn to logos, pictures and navigation menus. So keep these things easily accessible and put the ads near them, so that the advertisers will remain satisfied, as will those people are visiting your site.
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Left over Right
As people, at least in most cultures, read left to right, the left side of the page has been found to be read more than the right side in a number of studies. In fact, according to the Nielsen Norman Group, 69 percent of web users spend their time viewing the left half of the page while 30 percent spend their time viewing the right half. Based on these figures, it makes more sense to focus on the left side of the page or build the page so the viewer’s focus is here and can be drawn to the right.
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Below the Fold
Since attention spans have dwindled when reading web pages, the first things a user sees are always the most important. So the first image, the headline or the first amount of text on the page is critical to keeping someone around to keep reading or viewing. DesignModo.com point out that most people don’t scroll unless they are really interested, so the most important content should be relegated to the top part of the page.
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For Forms, Simplicity is Key
When asking users to fill out different forms on a website, place orders or do anything that requires them to fill in various fields, it is critical that the page is properly designed and is made as simple and user friendly as possible. Cxpartners.co.uk provides great guidance on how eye tracking studies indicate web forms should look. What is supposed to be entered into each field must be direct and simple, so that there is no confusion, causing them to click away. Forms are best laid out vertically, not horizontally, according to studies. Labels should be aligned to the left, as they are clearer for users. Try to keep everything in one column so scrolling up and down is easy and users don’t accidentally not fill in fields and have to do everything over again or go back. Don’t mix and match colors on these forms unless absolutely necessary, as this can confuse users.
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Make Optional and Required Information Clear
Asterisks are often confusing for required fields so just mark optional for all fields that are optional and don’t necessarily have to be filled in for a user to successfully complete a form.
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Make it Good to Look At
Once you have laid out your web page, hopefully based on some of the guidelines above, take a step back and just gaze at it. Is it enjoyable to look at from an unbiased perspective? Or does it make you squint or have colors that clash? These subtle design things can really drive people away, so ask some friends or people who will give it to you straight about what you should change on this front and see what they have to say. It may be the difference in your site succeeding or failing.
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By following these tips you will be able to create a more customer friendly design for your website that will attract readers. Instead of clicking away from your website, visitors will then want to explore more of your site.
Image credit: Olarte Ollie