Have you ever felt that after visiting certain websites that you want to leave the website immediately because you do not feel comfortable or because you feel that something is not right with the website even though you do not know exactly what makes you feel uncomfortable? Yes, it is not an uncommon experience that we feel instantly comfortable in certain websites where as we feel just the opposite with other websites. Have you ever stopped to think why we have such diverse experiences?
If you depend on your website extensively in driving sales or if you are a website designer, it is crucial that you pay attention to such factors because visitors to the websites that you design or the websites that you own will also be having similar experiences. For you to realize a sale through your website it is vital that your visitors spend a considerable amount of time in your website so that you get chance to convince them. If they quit your website in the first few seconds then you do not stand a chance, as you do not get enough time to convince your visitors.
After a couple of decades after the advent of the internet, we can today talk of ‘Internet User Psychology’ or ‘Website Visitor Psychology’. This would not have been a meaningful or an important discussion when the internet and websites were still new to people a few decades ago; today that is not the case, website designers should take cognizance of the internet user psychology to design user friendly websites.
Having used the internet and the modern websites for several years now, the internet users have been psychologically conditioned to certain patterns; when they visit a website, they tend to expect certain things and they presume certain things unconsciously. When the websites they visit do not match these expectations or to this conditioning, your visitors will feel uncomfortable but they will not know why exactly they are feeling uncomfortable.
One of the questions that we need to tackle here is how the internet users, in other words how did are we conditioned? If you review the history of the internet, the history of websites and the website architecture, you will notice that the web design trends have come a long way in terms of how each web design component is being used today. We are not talking about the various web design technologies that the industry has come up with but with the design concepts per se.
Over the years web design experts have been continually experimenting on what works well and how different users respond to different web design architectures. Top players in the internet industry like Google, Yahoo, Bing and all the other big names that you can think of spend countless hours in studying the user behavior pattern. One of the best examples that we can give here is the heat map released by Google for its Adsense users, which teaches that by positioning the ads in the web pages as per the suggested locations, the webmaster will be able to increase the click through rates.
On the one hand, top websites and big brands try to create websites based on user patterns and match their architecture to guarantee the best performance. On the other hand, we should also not miss the fact that top websites that have huge visitor traffic come up with certain web design pattern to which the internet users get used to over a period of time and start expecting the similar pattern in the other websites too. As you can see that, it is a two-way traffic. Though different styles emerge in the web design architecture, only certain layouts stand the test of time, user expectations are based on such patterns or layouts that have stood the test of time.
Here are some typical areas of conditioning:
As you can see, every component has its place in the web page. There is no strict rule on where you will have to place these components but if you do not follow the above structure, you are sure to cause user distress. What we have mentioned here are just a few basic factors and there are countless such factors that you need to pay attention to when you are designing your website. This is where the experience of the designer and the web designer’s ability to pay attention to details count.
Similarly, the size of the buttons that you use in your website also counts. If you are going to have oversized buttons in your page, then your web page will not only look aesthetically unappealing but it will also make your visitors feel uncomfortable in your website.
Yet another factor that you will have to pay attention to with regard to the user psychology is the color scheme of your website. Visit as many websites as possible in your niche and you will be able to see a specific pattern in the color schemes. While it is important to keep your website design unique, deviating too much from the traditional color scheme of your niche will cause user distress.
The idea here is that to provide the users with a web design architecture or web design pattern that they are used to, while at the same time trying to create websites that stand out from the rest of the competition.
There is yet another correlation that you need to pay attention to, if your website or if your web pages load fast then the users tend to associate it with the brand efficiency. On the other hand, if the pages take a long time to load then the internet users tend to feel that your brand may not be a trustworthy brand and also that you may not be an efficient service provider. Though the page loading speed is decided to a considerable extent by the nature of the internet connection one uses, the users’ tendency is to attribute the negative to the website that they are visiting. You should therefore make sure to take this factor also into consideration when you are designing your website.
When you have the most perfect blend of factors that make browsing your web pages an enjoyable experience, then you will see a steady increase in your sales count.
Website visitors do not like to see errors when they are visiting your website. In particular, they do not want to see these error pages during the shopping process. If the users get ‘page cannot be found errors’ or other error messages when they are trying to buy a product or pay for a service, then it creates mistrust. This can affect your conversion rates very badly. Your website visitors will leave the transaction without completing the process.
By doing all these and paying attention to all the above factors, what are we trying to do? We are simply trying to make the visitors feel comfortable in our website. User experience is what counts ultimately. You will have to be a sensitive to the fact that you do not have the advantage of dealing with the visitor or the customers face to face. Virtual communication always has an element of suspicion ingrained and you need to make sure that you are doing everything possible within your capacity to overcome the limitations of this virtual communication by providing them as many cues as possible to affirm that you are a trustworthy service provider and that you are here to serve the customers.
It is just the first time it is difficult and once the customer has experienced your services then you will be able to handle things lot more easily in the subsequent transaction. However, you will have to remember that this ‘first-time-ordeal’ is present with every single customer that comes to your website. In other words, the challenge that you are facing here is an on going challenge and you need to be well prepared to deal with this challenge effectively by getting professional guidance in designing your website and in continually enhancing the quality of the experience you give your customers. This certainly requires your attention but it is certainly not rocket science. There are thousands of successful websites online and you too will be able to make your website into one such website but after reading this, you should be in a better position to create websites that are not only visually appealing to your users but also psychologically appealing.
Image Credits – Toni Blay