Let’s make something clear. We’ll not be talking about trending themes and fads. I won’t tell you whether you should use this color or that. And we sure as anything won’t be talking about how to optimize pictures (progressive rendering, by the way). Sorry to disappoint you by not giving you information which you should know already.
This article is for web designers. And we’ll talk theory. You can put the ideas and principles to practice on your own.
1. Focusing and Guiding User Attention
Your default analogy for user’s attention span should equate it to water or sand. It trickles/blows away real fast. The first, foremost purpose of your theme is to display content in a manner that, in order of occurrence:
1. Grabs Attention (Think: Above the Fold and set timer to 2-seconds. Make an impression, fast).
2. Holds Attention (Think: Building curiosity. Content that entices users to scroll down, because no amount of cutting and squeezing will put your entire message in one frame/fold).
3. Guides attention through the rest of the message (This is where you put directional cues, contrast, whitespace, and other design principles to keep attention where it’s wanted).
Sounds simple enough in theory, but when you have one homepage and 5 different offers/ products/ services, it’s obvious that some feelings are going to be hurt. Which brings us to our next point…
2. Decisions, Decisions, Decisio… Oh! A Distraction
If you’re offering too many choices, people will often end up choosing nothing at all. Unbounce calls it decision fatigue. Psychology calls it information overload. But let’s not squabble over nomenclature.
Every element on a single page on your site needs to focus on one campaign goal and no more than that. If your posts are promoting subscription, your product pages don’t need to do the same and so on.
The distraction is what users will latch on to when they’re too bored out of their skulls from your incessant prattling/corporate drabble. Distractions can be blamed for detracting user-attention from your message to even giving users an easy exit. Ads, social icons, navigation (sometimes) have negative effects.
Focus on learning about Attention Ratio to know where to draw the line. Other than that:
• Remove all blinky/flashy and unnecessary elements from landing pages.
• Stick to the point (No walls-of-text from your writers, and for cripes’ sake, NO flowery language either).
3. Tie-in that Modal with User Journey
“Thanks!! I really appreciate being slapped in the face with this amazing offer for discount on Yoga pants and I’ll absolutely give you my email. I mean, sure, I was here to read that article on 5-min daily yoga, but who cares about that, right?” -The (imaginary) visitors.
If I started this article by asking for your email address, would you still be here? The answer is a big fat tub of No. I know.
Interruption marketing is a growing trend (because, of course). And yes, it’s very, very effective for conversions. Just, please, for the sake of your users, don’t be pest. Once you have tied the modal with your page’s conversion goal and loaded it with triggers and conditions, you also need to think of the best time to break it out.
So put some user-experience study and research behind those brilliant popups, and make sure that they don’t badger your visitors at the wrong time. Tie it up neatly with your ideal user-journey.
4. Simple and familiar does the trick
It’s called familiarity bias. Every one of us has it. Even you, Steve.
While a lot of focus is on “being your own person” and “uniqueness”, you still end up with the same-looking themes and hiring WordPress customization companies to glam it up to your specifications.
Since the beginning of web, we have come to expect certain things being the way they are: sidebar on the left, navigation in the head, links in the footer, et al. These are the things we are familiar with.
The designs that keep the general layout of the site in line with these simple basics do well; research done by UX-guys at Youtube backs me up.
Take it all with a grain of salt. Don’t expect these principles and advice to work for you like they worked for others. Test the assumptions and debunk them.
Preferably here, where you could return the favor or gloat. Your pick.