User centered web design puts the user at the heart of the design process. The way a user interacts with web elements should be easy and simple.
Many websites do not have interactive elements and do not engage the reader effectively. When web developers do use interactive elements, they are often too complicated. For example, many sites want visitors to sign up to a newsletter so that they can receive marketing emails. The minimum, and perhaps the maximum data, that should be required for this process is a first name and an email address. Long forms asking for address, phone numbers, or that ask lots of questions, are not usually received well by users and they will often close the form without completing it.
Interactive web design is about keeping things simple for the end user.
The principles of simple user centred design
There are several core principles of user centred interactive design. The designers should understand how users interact with the website and design for their needs. They should talk to users and listen to their suggestions. Each design modification should be tested on actual users for their feedback – it is not enough to guess how users interact; you need to observe them using the website.
A website may have several interactive functions: signup forms, shopping carts, surveys, games and so on. Most of these interactive elements are designed to collect data which is then stored in a database. Many visitors have a short attention span and become impatient if it takes too long to enter information.
Interactive elements can use complex code which is created by programmers whose main concern is the efficient collection and storage of the data. Coders do not necessarily think like users. They do not primarily design their systems for ease of use. This means discussing with the code writers how to make the process simple for the user.
Amazon are the kings of this. They make it simple to collect data with their 1-Click ordering system, where users just need to press one button to order goods using their preferred payment method and delivery address.
Amazon’s system achieves the goal of human centred interaction design which is to make interaction as simple and efficient as possible. No doubt behind 1-Click ordering is a complex process of handling payment and passing on the order to Amazon’s warehouse, but the user does not see any of this complexity. They simply press that 1-click ordering button, sit back, and wait for their goods to arrive – sometimes later that day!
Responsiveness and visual appeal
Another major part of interaction design is responsiveness. Many people view websites on mobile devices such as tablets and phones. Interactive elements must be just as simple and easy to use on mobile devices with their small screens as on large screen computers. If interactive elements are displayed too small on phones, then people with large fingers will have problems in accurately clicking on the right elements.
Developers making interaction simple should not ignore the visual appeal of their designs. They should create interactive elements that work simply but also look stunning.
Engage Web’s expert web designers understand user’s needs. We develop all our websites that include interactive elements that focus on ease of use.
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