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article | 11.03.2015

There is no clear rules

In the following article we will tackle some seemingly obvious things that turn out to not be so obvious after a closer look. The cases presented here show that there’s no ready solutions, only general rules and exceptions that prove them. We have to remember than none of these rules should be followed blindly. As usual - everything depends on the context and our end user.

People do not read

Most users scan websites visually in search for the content they want. In most cases they read only 50 - 60% of the entire article before leaving the website. What’s interesting is that they have no problem with sharing that content further through social media. It does not apply to all of the Internet users however. Users that read for pleasure or are interested in the topic will read it thoroughly from the beginning to the end. Time spent on reading the site’s content can also be extended by good design. We’re talking about things like typography that displays well on screen, well-structured content, headings or information hierarchy that make the process of reading (and scanning) seem effortless. Equally important are images that fit the content. This strategy is a foundation of sites like Medium or Quartz. The research conducted by Chartbeat shows that clickablity of ads grows with time spent on a certain website - that’s why it’s beneficial to make the user read.

Above The Fold

This principle says that the most important information should be available instantly, on the first screen without the need to scroll below the fold. It’s partially true but should not be treated as some kind of dogma. According to Chartbeat’s research, 76% of users scroll down - these numbers are based on a study of over 2 billion site views. What it means is that the fold isn’t necessarily a magical line that renders everything below it either useless or forgettable. In fact, users spend over 65% of their time bellow the first screen. What’s interesting is that for some time now the scrollbars on the right side of the screen have been hidden by default. The reason is users habits - most of them start scrolling automatically or move their cursors to the edge of the screen in order to activate the scrollbar. They just got used to the fact that the fold doesn’t mean the end. Also parallax sites - they sure do look cool and in the meantime help to teach people that scrolling = fun. There are some advantages of placing the content below the dreaded line. Look at this case by conversionxl - the registration form has been moved down which increased the number of conversions by 304%. All thanks to the fact that the users learned about the offer first, and were asked to register later.

Details are powerfull

This is an essential truth that has some numbers to back it up. For example - introduced a single button that increased their annual profit by 300 000$. The button? An option to skip the registration and go straight to the checkout. Another good example of conversion increse can be found in this case study from ClickTale. The registration form indicated the required fields with a simple asterisk (*). The optional fields like phone number had no symbol. The study found that over 37% of visitors were dropping out when they reached that field. The reason? Not everyone wants to give out their phone numbers and because of the poor labeling they thought that it is required to continue with the registration. The solution was simple and elegant - all it took was to label the field clearly as “optional” and the conversion rate grew to 80%. We can find many examples like these - they have the markings of a good viral story where one little thing extremely changes absolutely everything. What’s important here is to remember that all these details are the building blocks of something much bigger. Without a well designed, comprehensive project many users would simply miss these options entirely. Attention to details is an essential part of every design process, but after all it’s the project as a whole that makes or breaks the product.

Deconcentration Users

Deconcentration is mainly attributed to the users of mobile devices. It is a stereotypical approach. In reality mobile users are no more distracted than those sitting in front of the PC or a laptop. The difference here is only quantitative (more opportunities for distraction, eg. public transportation), but in terms of quality there is a balance. A barking dog, a child running around the house or co-worker’s conversations can be as distracting for mobile as for stationary users. Also not true is the notion that we use mobile devices when we’re in a hurry, or while being on the move. According to Google’s research over 60% mobile devices are used inside the house. Similar results are presented in the InsightsNow research. Of course the rest is used on the way to work, in the car or generally on-the-go - it’s just that they are not the only group.

These were just a couple of examples of how every coin has two sides. That’s why it’s always better to check beforehand which side better suits our end user.