Experts Weigh In: How to Make Someone Fall in Love with Your Website

It is the season of love, so just in time for Valentine’s Day we asked talented design experts the world over for their laws of website attraction. How do you leave the ‘friend zone’ and make your audience fall in love with your website? For some designers it’s about attention to detail. For others it’s about throwing site visitors tiny little surprises. For all of them, less is definitely more. Here’s some of their best moves for wooing a digital audience:

Brendan Kearns – Product Designer at Twitter & Founder of The New Workshop

Brendan Kearns

Users will only love sites and products that exceed their expectations. Too often I still see people skip the foundations of good web design. Gratuitous UI or shortcuts won’t win you any favors with customers or clients. Always remember that good design is purposeful.

Have a purpose

Unless you’re Netflix, you’re not in the entertainment business. Remember the reasons why you built the site and stick to it. Write a scenario, assume you have no idea of what your site does, then try to use it. Even better, ask someone with no idea. Even better than that, ask dozens of them.Does it work for them? Yes? How could it be easier? No? What isn’t clear?

Start with touch

Globally, mobile web users surpassed desktop users years ago. If you’re ignoring the fundamentals of designing with touch targets in mind, you’re in trouble. The same goes for considering how your site works across all devices.

Revise. Revise. Revise.

Always be optimizing your site through revision and testing. Focus on two core areas:

  • Content

The quality of content and it’s clarity. No fluff.

  • Display

How structured and consumable your content and tools are to the average user.

Ellen Andrews – Founder & Designer at Hi There Designs

Ellen Andrews

Capture the energy and personality of the business and its owner and let it shine through a screen. Businesses aren’t static or dull, they are dynamic and engaging and that should be reflected on their website.

In terms of functionality and navigation I stick to the ‘KISS’ acronym: Keep It Simple Stupid. You don’t want to confuse your clients and users, so make things obvious and easy. You may have great customer service in store, but if your site isn’t easy to use people may think otherwise. Who wants to read things these days anyway? Keep it short, light and to the point with lots of visuals.

Jes Gundy – UI Engineer at KinHR

Jes Gundy

The difference between a good site and one you fall in love with is, ironically, application of the resource that most web professionals have the least of: time.

A great website is like a polished stone found on the beach – one that the waves have worn down over years and years, removing all of the edges, rough spots, and blemishes. It takes an enormous amount of time to apply the same metaphorical treatment to a website, refining everything from aesthetics to performance. Designing, prototyping, reviewing, discussing, iterating, user testing…there simply aren’t enough hours in the day (much less billable hours) to do it all as thoroughly and whole-heartedly as most of us passionate creatives wish we could.

This struggle is even more stark in our ever-changing and multi-faceted medium. We never know through what lens our users will see our work. Will they be on the latest version of Chrome, or stuck with an ancient Android phone? Will they try to navigate our creation through an assistive screen reader, or simply see our indexed Google search listing? These are all faces of our work, equally important in the right context.

Love is reciprocal. If we want our users to love our work, then we have to love them too – with their naïveté and their less-than-perfect browsing tools. When it really comes down to it, time is the ultimate symbol of love in our increasingly fast paced world: the love to sacrifice our precious time to help our users save some of theirs.

Jordan Deutsch – Co-founder of Up at Five

Jordan Deutsch

As web developers we spend a lot of time thinking about how to organize information. We architect data so that content is related, packaged, and presented in a way that is digestible. Focus on the logical flow of information; ensuring disparate views feel part of a cohesive whole. These same principles inform the visual design of great sites.

Focus on flow, how would a user navigate the site? In what ways can we inform the pacing? How can we create seamless transitions between static views? The result is a focus on subtle animation. We pair relatively flat design with three-dimensional motion and timed animation to add depth and a little personality.

Phil Cohen – Freelance Artist & Designer

Phil Cohen

Restraint in design is often the key to a great site. I think of the interface as the matte of a frame of a painting, a neutral environment to view your content against. Limiting the colors of an interface allows you emphasize the page’s content. By building the interface out of only a few colors, both full color graphics and black and white images pop.

I’m not advocating a minimal interface but a reasoned one. Rollovers can be more than just fun to trigger, but can also emphasize brand identity or provide a peek at the content they link to. Even subtle color shifts or changes in light angle can add enough variety to encourage a visitor to explore your navigation.

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