Don’t prioritise cool

over usability


Websites are great. Essentially, they provide the perfect 24/7 shop window into a business, what they offer and how their products or services can make your life better. Often referred to as an online brochure, we expect them to not only look great, but be useable too. After all we are all short of time, so need the information we require to be presented to us quickly and succinctly, as we don’t have the patience to be endlessly scrolling or wandering into a no man’s land of layout cul-de-sacs.

But it seems as if some organisations missed the memo and are keen to present us with websites that sacrifice usability for beauty, thanks to a massive range of annoying concerns. These could relate to everything from too much clutter, loading delays and navigation failures, to visibility issues. Let’s face it we’ve all encountered a website where it really is style over substance. Arty images that appear and then disappear, deliberately vague content and no menus to guide us at all.

Some organisations are keen to present us with websites that sacrifice usability for beauty, thanks to a massive range of annoying concerns

Usability is everything

Our advice to anyone looking for their first website, or to refresh their existing site, is to ensure that they are first and foremost easy to use. Looking cool or beautiful should be very much a secondary concern at this early stage.

If you are unsure what deems a website unusable, then let me introduce you to my top three website niggles.

1.  Parallax scrolling

Never heard of it I hear you say, well let me tell you more. Parallax scrolling is where some elements of the website appear to be in front of other elements as they move at different speeds to create a feeling of depth. It mostly involves bands of colours and images overlapping each other – this can look interesting, but it generally ads zilch when it comes to usability. And on mobiles, it’s a real pain as sometimes you can’t actually see the content you are trying to access, thanks to loads of other rubbish which keeps sliding over it.

2.     Hamburger menu

You know what I mean, this is where instead of a proper menu design, you find an icon of three, short horizontal lines, which when clicked, will launch a side menu or navigation menu. This is perfect for mobile devices where space is limited, but on a desktop, it may look cool and simple, but it presents two main drawbacks. Firstly, you are assuming that everyone knows what those three lines mean and secondly it involves an extra step for them to find the relevant menu items. And if time is critical, don’t be surprised it people find it a click too far.

3.     Hiding stuff

Surely the whole point of having a website is for people to contact you either for more information, or to place an order? With this being the case, it still amazes us that contact details, or other call to action essentials are effectively hidden from view. One website that I visited recently wanted people to complete a form or do an online chat, there was no phone number or email address offered for more personal communication. As well as making you look shifty and as if you don’t want to be contacted, hiding or removing contact details can result in an incomplete and/or unsatisfactory visitor experience.

Do you have any cool website niggles that make you cross? If so, please share them with us via our social media channels.

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