The cat’s out of the bag! Smashing Magazine has compiled a list of 10 clever, little tricks for better website usability. These little known design touches are based on statistical evidence that web designers rely on to create successful websites. Now you can know our secrets, too!
From eye-tracking research and other usability studies, we’re able to gather findings to help make more enjoyable web experiences for our users. Some of these findings are several years old, so make sure to keep that in mind:
1. Having labels above the fields are better than having them beside, in a 2-column format.
(Side-note: placing the labels inside the fields would also be appropriate).
2. People attract people.
When we see faces, our eyes are automatically attracted to them. In addition, if a person’s face is pointing in a certain direction, our eyes will also move to where that person is looking.
3. Good design = more credibility
Design affects the way we perceive brands. We say this time and again: you can’t stop people from judging a book by its cover. There are plenty of studies to back this up, too:
- Stanford-Makovsy Web Credibility Study 2002: Investigating What Makes Web Sites Credible Today
- What Makes A Web Site Credible? A Report on a Large Quantitative Study
- The Elements of Computer Credibility
- Elements that Affect Web Credibility: Early Results from a Self-Report Study (Proceedings of ACM CHI 2000 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, v.2, New York: ACM Press)
5. When in doubt, use blue links
This rule can definitely be taken with a grain of salt. Blue links were the norm for websites a decade ago. But if having a bunch of blue text links starts to impact your design negatively (thus breaking rule #3), perhaps using a different color is best. The point is to have your links stand out from your body text. Usually that simply means having enough contrast.
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