Think About the User Experience

  • by Shala Graham
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It’s not uncommon for nonprofit organizations to get entranced by all the new trinkets and toys that have appeared on the web frontier. Things are now sliding, fading, zooming, and animating in ways we would have never imagined over ten years ago, when I first learned how to design and develop websites. It’s all so…exciting…and new…and we just gotta…have it all! Well, before you write that RFP for a new, organization-changing website, or if you are designing that website, consider some of the following tips.

Watch out for information overload. 

Sometimes requesting a slider, a video, another large graphic feature, and prominent buttons for every single audience can bury the home page, or any page, with “stuff.” It is best to create a clear hierarchy, deciding what should be the primary and secondary focus, then organizing the additional details or calls to action in supportive roles. 

Don’t get too cute.

With the rise of font replacement techniques (which we do love), we can get carried away with the idea of having a non-standard typeface online, but lose sight of legibility and overall comfort for the eyes. Also, watch out for “creative” labeling of your menu items or calls to action. If people have to pause or question what a button, link or title means, you probably need to simplify. It’s okay to use words people will instantly recognize, even if everyone else uses them. Different is not always better.

Remember that the web is different from print.

Often times, people struggle with expecting design for print to translate well into design for the web. While inspiration can surely be gleaned for brand consistency, the elements, layout or structure may not always be appropriate for the web, leaving the user’s eye struggling when it comes to reading the body copy of a page. In print, you get the whole view of the page or spread at one time, and it’s easier to create hierarchy that draws the eye in different directions. On the web, page content is no longer restricted to “above the fold,” so as we scroll, it can be overwhelming if our eyes are directed in a more “creative” path. 

While the topic of good user experience is vast, I hope that you can take these few nuggets of information into your organization’s next website project.