Great design is invisible.
In an interview, Stephen King once said that he writes stories, not books. Stories outlive their platform.
A story written as a book can be converted to a movie. Blog posts written on a website can be converted to a magazine. These examples illustrate the point that we are less concerned about how we receive an idea and are more focused on the idea itself.
This is because technology is becoming more and more human. A few years ago we would be impressed with new phone hardware or a larger television. Now innovation and development has plateaued (Moore’s Law) to the point where differences in devices are minuscule and more about personal taste than function. As a result, the technology competition is growing more and more about content and services.
This is evidenced by the fact that the large corporations like Amazon and Apple are all moving toward total immersion in their products and services. One ecosystem of devices and content sources, all connected and easily transferable from one device to the other. It is less and less about the individual device and more and more about the seamless access to content and services.
It’s a cyclical revolution, as we return to our roots. From books written by ancient scribes on papyrus to VR systems that deliver the most immersive sensory experiences. Now we return to the focus of what makes it all work: ideas; content.
The evolution of web design is no different.
No longer are we impressed (distracted) by shiny buttons and animations (goodbye flash). As our attention span continues to drop and our impatience grows, we are impressed by usefulness and the clarity of content.
What sets superior technology apart is its ability to anticipate what the user will do next. That intuitive design approach is visually translated to minimalist aesthetics and questions/prompts that weave their way seamlessly into our user experience.
Having a website that presents information is no longer enough. It has to be a conversation that happens as quickly and as concisely as possible, giving your viewer information in an honest way.
We are ever more averse to sales tactics and advertising. Social media and the internet has done that to our generation and all the ones that are to follow.
Stay true to your core beliefs and design a site that does the following:
Presents an Understanding of your audience’s challenges.
We immediately relate to people who can verbalise things that we realise about ourselves. This is why memes are so successful online. They present situations that we can say ‘for real’ or ‘me too!’ That’s how you start a genuine conversation through your website.
Presents a sensible and pragmatic solution to the problem.
You understand the user’s problem, now you can tell them how to solve it.
To make an analogy: people don’t care about what’s inside the tv. They only care about what they want to watch on Netflix. You don’t need to explain electricity or pixels or circuitry.
Your focus should just be on how to get them from being bored and confused to getting them to enjoy a great show.
Ultimately, great solutions always seem obvious once revealed so keep it simple and effective.
Gives the user the ability to act.
Building a house without a door to get inside makes little sense. Your website should have a clear call to action that gives users the ability to access your solution.
Whether you’re providing a product or service, representing a cause or providing tech support, users need to know what happens next. The call to action and the resulting actions should be communicated clearly so that users are never left guessing.
Feedback such as a green tick to show success after submitting a form, or an email to say thanks for ordering are all critical to the user experience.
In closing, it’s not effective to have a website that hauls a barrage of information at the user. Your site should guide them through the process of learning about you. From the fact that you understand their problems and you have a solution to them, to the access to that solution, it’s all a process.
Within that process there are opportunities to understand your user and customer better; to further tailor your website to their needs. When designing your website and its content, remember that it’s less about the book and more about the story.