Creatures of Habit

October 24, 2021

We’ve all read statistics which suggest that if visitors don’t find what they are looking for on your website quickly, then they’ll click off … In fact, it’s estimated that you’ve got around 15 seconds to showcase your business. The majority of organisations include their ‘value proposition’ high up on the home page, so it’s the first thing visitors see. As well as making sure that your key messaging is front and centre, it’s worth thinking about where the other standard elements of a website are located. 

While, as website designers, we love an exciting brief and the freedom to produce something unique, we always have to bear in mind that website visitors today have certain expectations. If you confuse them by putting even simple things like the contact us information somewhere they aren’t expecting it, they generally won’t have the patience to go off hunting for it. 

Today, we are used to a fairly standardised website layout; after all, most of us are short of time and don’t like change. Think about your regular visit to your favourite supermarket. You know where the majority of your purchases are situated and, if you’ve written a list, this will probably follow your route to a certain extent. One of our local supermarkets recently had a refurbishment and whole aisles were moved around the store. The confusion was real and the frustration of shoppers was obvious. A quick 20-minute shop involved many circuits round the shop looking for a simple tin of tomatoes. 

When it comes to websites, we look for the home page button in a particular place, we know where the menu should be and where the ‘contact us’ button is likely to be found. If you decide to reinvent the wheel at this point, then you’ll probably lose potential customers who don’t have the time to negotiate your reimagined idea of how a website should function. 

A company’s logo will usually feature prominently at the top of the home page, typically on the left, but sometimes in the centre or on the right. But, it needs to be there, so visitors know they’ve landed on the correct website. There’s also have an expectation as to where the social media links will be situated and that’s usually in the footer, while if your website includes a search function, that tends to be in the header.  

In terms of how exciting and cutting edge your actual design is will depend on what your business does and who your customers are. For instance, it’s not the best idea to create a cutting-edge modern website aimed at potentially older visitors or, on the other hand, a sombre offering for younger students. But even ‘exciting’ websites need to be able to work and function efficiently. 

Of course, not everyone will be viewing your new website on a large screen or even a tablet. This means that any design should work equally well on mobile devices too. According to figures from Statista, mobile accounts for approximately half of web traffic worldwide. In the first quarter of 2021, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 54.8 percent of global website traffic. In fact, many emerging digital markets have skipped the desktop phase and moved straight onto mobile internet, including India, which has a significant mobile-first online population.

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