More people use the internet for information, socialization, and commerce than ever before.  With consumers relying on the web for its critiques and reviews, it is critical that businesses have a professional website as part of their brand strategy.  It will become the focal point for people seeking to learn more.  Businesses have to build their website with their customers interests and behaviors in mind.  Your users may not even know it, but they will love these 3 design choices on your website.

1. Familiar Interfaces

Many businesses want to emphasize that they are separate and unique from their competitors, and while this is important for some aspects like branding and product/service options, this isn’t necessarily the case with a web interface.  A user wants to navigate a website with ease and access the information they want in the least clicks possible.  Users expect links, menus, buttons, and modals to work in a way that they are familiar with.  For example, an up arrow in the bottom right corner of the screen has been commonly accepted as a way to scroll back to the top of a page.  Changing that functionality to something they are not familiar with, like opening up a menu on the bottom of the page, would be confusing.  Failing to me the expectations of your users when they are using your website by not adopting widely accepted practices will lead to user frustration.  Users love it when websites follow behavior that they already know how to use.

2. Unobtrusive Pop-ups

Numerous websites use full screen pop-ups for gathering email addresses for newsletter subscriptions and marketing blasts, and it’s had its success in the past.  However, not only do users find it an annoyance and are more likely to leave your website immediately (“bouncing”), but it will hurt your search ranking in the long run.  As of January 10, 2017, Google will lower the search results of any websites that uses intrusive marketing tactics.  With most web users not navigating past the first page of search results, this can cause more harm to your business than the mailing lists are worth.  Instead, utilizing design strategies that allow for email collection in an organic manner will build your following while saving your SEO.

3. Content Positioning

The content a business decides to include on their website is important.  Users and search engines like to see unique and interesting content.  Equally important to the type of content is the location of the content on the site.  There are a number of tools you can use to gather specific information on how users behave on your site, like heat maps and A/B testing.  As general guidelines, websites should position their most important content toward the top left of each page.
There are two main reasoning behind this common user behavior.  First, there is a lot of content available for consumption, but users have limited time to view it.  Many times a user won’t even scroll down a page or an email, and will try to get as much information as they can from what they see immediately before deciding if they want to investigate further.  Content that is available immediately on a screen without scrolling is called “above the fold”, originating from newspapers that were delivered folded in half, where only the front half page was visible.  Second is the natural way that people read in the English language.  English is read top to bottom, left to right.  Therefore people will naturally start at the top left corner of a page, their eyes then move to the right of the top, then down and to the left again.  By this pattern, content found in the bottom right of a page will rarely be seen, so make sure to position what’s important to you and your customers in the proper place.

When designing and updating a business website, companies need to put themselves in the position of their customers.  Understanding the user base expectations and delivering what they want will help build search ranking and brand awareness, while putting a smile on the users face 🙂