In the previous segment of this topic, I talked about why you need to humanise your web design. Humanising websites means designing responsive and meaningful experiences based on user behaviour. It means predicting how your users interact and communicate with your website, and giving them a reason to come back for more.
The answer to creating humanised experiences lies in how personalised and instinctive the design is. Once that happens, it becomes second nature for us as customers to keep going back to these experiences because they become a part of our lives. A few cases in point would be YouTube, Spotify and Facebook. People just spend hours on them every day!
Now that we understand how user experience can influence web design, is the reverse possible? How do you influence your users’ physical experiences and senses through your website?
Make Communication Real and Fun
No human interaction would be complete without human involvement. The words and language used, the platform of communication, timing, and the context of delivery – they all matter in affecting customer experience.
I was most impressed by a live chat customer service officer who not only assisted my queries within seconds of my asking them, but held a conversation with me as if I was a friend he was excited to talk to.
His language was incredibly welcoming, using conversational prompts like, “Oh, before I almost forget, the best thing about this is…” and “By the way, we’re currently having a promo! I’m happy to let you know we have a promo every year so you can choose when to sign up with us!”
This provided some level of transparency and made me as a user feel reassured to talk to him.
Unfortunately but all too commonly, many websites lack communication skills and social cues, i.e. constant pop ups that take over your screen whenever you click on anything and the lack of support. It affects the viewing quality of your content.
But you need pop ups on your website, you say? Marketing is still important for business and your website can’t be too passive? I hear you. And so, we’ve found that some websites have been increasingly creative with their information and marketing techniques, and they all generate a fun human personality at the same time!
Even if you have to have markety pop ups, you can be creative about getting attention. Turn disinterest into interest!
Get your pop ups interactive and responsive – just as a person was talking to you! Make sure it goes naturally with your brand, like how a bartender might sound like here.
Whether it’s a contact form or account registration, get customers curious and attentive at the start by making selections fun.
Simplify Reading Experience
When you design a website, you’re likely writing for an audience with layman knowledge of your industry. You want to get them interested. Are your words too bombastic? Are you using too much technical terminology out of habit? Who would understand your content and who is meant to understand it?
Showing off your expertise is important but don’t let it dictate your style of writing. Unless your website is intended for a specifically niche and technical audience, most of your readers would be laymen. It’s a general rule of thumb to make your content as foolproof as possible, since your users might not have the same industrial knowledge as you.
I also advise using mainly an active tone to bring urgency and clarity to webpage content. For example, it’s much clearer and quicker to understand “Sign up with us and get free clothing alteration services!”, rather than “Clothing alteration services will be offered for free if you sign up with us.”
Aside from words used, typography matters directly to your users’ understanding of information. Can they read your fonts? Are your fonts legible enough to understand at a glance? If your consumers have to think and squint at their screens to read your content, that’s plenty of reason to just find another website instead.
In terms of measuring how much online content people read, you usually want to write around 60-90 characters for most of your sentences, give or take. Shorter sentences make for an easier time reading and quicker understanding. The structure of your content is controlled and focused – painting a clear picture of your website’s objective.
Of course, there are exceptions – such as blogging, where people would expect to read more content and elaborations on concepts.
Focus Attention with Colours
Colour schemes are highly critical in web design as well. The contrast between your colours brings attention to what’s in the foreground and background. As someone who is partially colour blind, I wouldn’t be able to see your content or graphics if they were of a dark purple colour over a black background. And squinting would just hurt my eyes!
Conditions related to colour deficiency such as deuteranopia and tritanopia are very real disabilities that exist in 8% of men and 0.5% of women globally. If we apply this to the context of just Singapore, we can assume roughly 484,500 people suffer from colour blindness, like myself. That’s a lot of missed market share because of a bad colour scheme!
But be wary of using too many random colours that make your page look inconsistent and hard to look at. Simple contrast works wonders, congestion just causes… well, confusion.
Experiences go well beyond the screens we view content on. We’re able to control how people perceive information on various devices, how people react to certain information and what senses they use to experience it. These are soft skills we can apply to web design and use to our advantage, making experiences online more humane and personal.
Reduce Effort of Accessibility
Ever tried one of those motion sensing gaming consoles like Kinect or Wii? Then you might know how tiring or unnecessary some of the movements can be. The same can be said for websites with too many things to click on, scroll through or interact with, especially if the alignment and spacing of their sections are uneven.
Some websites have navigation menus that are so far away from the main content that it’s a nightmare to either scroll all the way up or click a ton of different things so you can access another section of the site. It’s super counterintuitive for users.
Even if your page had a truckload of content, it wouldn’t be as bad as an arbitrary and scattered design that doesn’t make sense. You could have one simple page and no one would know what to do on your website.
This is where UI and UX come into play, to design an entire experience for the user that’s comfortable, fast and convenient to navigate. No wasted motions, no high barriers of entry to discourage users from exploring the site.
It’s about intuitive site navigation and the ease of movements in which a user can comfortably repeat, i.e. continue accessing other parts of the website.
Where you can find a need, stay open to designs that challenge the ordinary structures of websites. Be flexible. Designs that don’t work well on eCommerce websites, for example, may work well for an architecture or restaurant website – where booking appointment systems or abstract surreal designs may be prioritised.
If this improves the user experience on your website, it’s all the reason to do it. You’re designing for human users after all, not machines that could scan through 100 pages of content in 5 seconds without getting bored.
Although this may require some brainstorming of techniques that are not conventional, what works will work. What’s new and effective will distinguish you from competitors. How do you think trends start?
Guide Your Users’ Line of Sight
Did you know that the angle of direct vision we have is so narrow that we can only fully see what we have directly in our sights? Beyond 2 degrees of range, everything else is peripheral. How does this apply to websites?
If you look at your screen, on mobile or on desktop, anything you’re not directly looking at is blurred. The further it is away from your span of direct vision, the more blurry it becomes.
The fact is anyone browsing through your website will need to scan it in its entirety, from top to bottom, to view your brand as a whole. That includes graphics, words, structure, colours, etc. Will they digest your website from the left or the right? From a corner or the centre?
Your goal as an owner or designer of your website is to funnel your viewers’ attention from one section to another in the most logical and simplest flow possible, in a way that makes sure they understand the most important parts of your website first and quickly.
The peripheral bits of your website, or what your users see next, should support your central information. This makes your website intuitive to digest, which should apply to most users and repeated users of your website.
To do that, you need to know where you want your users to look and navigate. That serves as the purpose for your design. Based on this, your design can then be functional, with creativity and aesthetics matching your purpose.
The Best Customer Experience is Designed from a Human’s Point of View
This is what customer experience from a human standpoint is all about. And right now, we’re all in a position where we can make use of ever-evolving tools to ensure our customers and users get the experience we want them to enjoy, as they interact with our brands.
To define and influence real experiences, we need to create products that are not just a part of the unfeeling, scripted marketing gigs in our world of information overload today. We need to design something that’s inclusive and strikes a chord with everyone around us.
As we always say, your website is your brand. It’s one of the first digital touchpoints you have with customers. Inside your website is everything that will amount to an impression of your business. Be human where possible, build a personal and natural conversation through your brand, and your customers will appreciate you all the more for it.
Want more tips and secrets on humanising web design?
Check out our previous part on the business benefits of humanising your website for people!
See how we turn words into action as we humanise websites for our clients here.