Science Shows Simple Web Designs Are More Effective
When internet users land on a website, they make an instant judgement based on the aesthetics. The subsequent reaction depends on what they are looking for – but as far as business owners should be concerned, consumers prefer websites that are easy to use.
Studies show that visually complex websites are rated as less attractive and more difficult to work out. It’s just how the human brain functions. Our cognitive fluency cannot compute overly complex designs because we like to keep things simple.
Low complexity sites do not over-stretch the brain, and when end-users are browsing, they want to be able to find things quickly without having to think too much.
Furthermore, we prefer websites – or layouts – that are familiar to us. Consumers therefore are more likely to return to brands that have a web design they enjoy using. Simple websites improve customer loyalty.
How the brain sees a website
When you visit a website, you notice the colours, the typography, images and layout. You will probably have a conscious thought about the design. But sub-consciously the brain is computing much more information and every slight detail is subtle communication.
This can make web design complicated when businesses have a lot of services and products on offer. Optimising a homepage to visually communicate the business in its entirety will put stress on the visitor’s cognitive process.
So how can web designers communicate what a business is about without confusing visitors? The answer to that lies in George A Miller’s research into the working memory – the part of the brain that temporarily stores information.
The working brain will store between 5 to 9 pieces of information. However, those pieces tend to focus on negative aspects because that is how the mind is subconsciously programmed.
How to design a simple website
The layout of a website should be logical. Although the general advice is to provide users with a “unique experience,” the brain-science tells designers to put navigation signals where users expect to find them. With clean web designs, pathways to internal pages are easy to see.
Use colours and typography that communicate what the brand is about. Colours and fonts are among the visuals that subtly communicate to the subconscious mind and when used intelligently replaces other elements you don’t need.
Don’t give visitors too much to look at. Display one image on-screen rather than a selection and use one horizontal column rather than three verticals.
There is nothing you can do about the number of products or services a business needs to display. But good web designers will find solutions to present everything in a simple format that does not over-complicate what visitors see. And the less they look at, the less chance they have of being negative.
User-experience is often the difference between a win and a loss, and confusing end-users with busy websites is not good UX. Keep things simple and you increase your chances of completing a sale – and consumers are more likely to return.