How people really use web pages

How designers look at web pages

  • We appreciate balance, depth, richness, and surprises
  • We enjoy looking at designs
  • We stare long and hard at the complete screen

How real people use web pages

These are fundamental and massive differences!

The way that we, as designers, even approach web pages is almost alien, compared to what goes on in the real world. That’s probably the main reason why so many web sites are badly designed.

Whenever you or I look at a design (or anything), our perception changes. Most importantly, we really look, as though we’re looking at a work of art.

We start to notice subtle differences that we wouldn’t have seen at first. We start to appreciate the play between different colours, textures and layers. If we look long enough, we’ll stop seeing. As the cliché goes, we “Can’t see the wood for the trees”.

Implications for Usability

In order to create effective web designs, we have to be sympathetic to web users. That involves getting smart in three key areas:

  1. the environment of real-world web use
  2. the habits users adopt in order to cope
  3. the things we can do to help users browse successfully, smoothly, and cheerfully

These three things pretty well sum up ‘Web design from Scratch’. The rest of the Basics section deals with the first two areas: the web browsing environment, and the habits of web users.

How to design for the web

We must design for the way people actually use the web (not how we think they should)

Once we fully acknowledge the way people really browse the web, we can get smart and positively design our sites to help real-life users, and avoid all the common mistakes that make life difficult for them.

About the author

Ben Hunt

Ben has over 20 years' experience in web design and marketing, and is one of the most influential figures on the subject of effective web design. He has written a bunch of books and spoken at multiple conferences internationally. In 2015, Ben created Open-Source Marketing, which promises to turn the practice of marketing upside down.. Find out more at http://opensourcemarketingproject.org

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