8 Common Myths of Web Design, Debunked
There are a lot of nuances about websites and how they are made that I find myself having to explain constantly. The details I thought to be common knowledge have turned out not to be, especially when it comes to talking shop with clients. There is nothing wrong with clients having these questions–questions help the process. I just want all my clients–past, current, and future–to know that they are not alone.
Lets debunk some of the most common myths!
Myth #1: “Users Don’t Scroll”
Once upon a time, scrolling was not standard behavior. Today, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
I’ve had clients over the years express concerns that their user may not scroll. And to relieve this, they either want to limit their page length or put up warnings on every page alerting users to scroll. Some advice from an experienced designer: don’t do either. In the world of mobile phones, scrolling is a universally understood behavior to anyone who frequently uses internet-connected devices.
UX Myths has beaten me to the punch as far as extensive research aggregation is concerned, but to highlight some of their research emphasizing scrolling as standard behavior:
- TMZ.com’s most-clicked button is at the bottom of the page
- There have been usability studies that demonstrated that “users read long, scrolling pages faster than paginated ones.”
Which leads us to…
Myth #2 : “It needs to be above the fold.”
The fold isn’t real—let’s just get that out of the way.
There isn’t a defined height that allows for a universal fold. Imagine the variance in heights and widths of a site when viewed on desktops, laptops, and mobile phones—and this doesn’t even account for all the secondary levels of variance within that (monitor and browser sizes, laptop sizes, and different phone models supporting different resolutions).
I occasionally get requests to shrink pages near the top to ensure that core messaging will “always appear above the fold.” Have no fear, responsive design guarantees that the core content is always present under the variety of heights and widths within a browser. Instead, the concern should be prioritizing the vital components of your site and establishing order for the page. If your messaging is strong and you have gained the user’s attention, I promise you they will be motivated to explore your site deeper.
Myth #3: “Can you change the wording of that?”
One of the most frequent concerns I hear during the wireframing and visual design are clients wondering whether or not the written words they see are set in stone. I can dispel that worry for you right now—if you can read it, you change it. During the design phase, we make our own suggestions for content, but at the end of the day, the client gets the final say on what words they want to use.
Myth #4: “Animation makes everything better”
Animation is awesome when exercised with control. Sure, it can add a level of intrigue and whimsy to your website that can both engage and entertain users. But is it actually helping your overall experience?
One past client sent us many experimental web interactions, like this one, for his health information site. While it certainly had a “cool” factor, did it actually aid the goals of the site? If your user is constantly being bombarded with confusing, screen-shaking animations that they are unfamiliar with, they’ll be so overstimulated by the experience that they will fail to understand your content or actually enlist in your service.
Instead, expend the effort in making sure your content is as sharp as it can be, and then consider using animation to increase the value of that messaging.
Myth #5: “It should be a quick change.”
The biggest misnomer in the design world: “It’s just a small change.”
A collection of “small” requests, like global style changes in colors, picture swapping, navigation reordering, font changes, and other minor tasks, can hinder the limited hours there are for the design phase. Especially when the “minor” changes take several hours to produce. (Not to mention, but these things can actually be done through the content management system.)
I always advise clients to target commentary and critique on big-picture items that need to be completely rehauled—not details that are easy for them to edit on their own later.
Myth #6: “Users won’t visit my site on their phone.”
Even if you don’t browse sites on your phone, that doesn’t mean your potential customers don’t too. It is estimated that two out of three Americans now have a smartphone—that’s about 210 million people who have lost a means to visit your site. The same rules apply to tablets, which outsold desktops and laptops last year. Maximize your presence—make sure your site is available on any device your customers are using.
Myth #7: “I don’t need to integrate social media into my site.”
Not every company needs to show its most recent tweet, but offering a way to maintain contact with your users is an invaluable tool for your business’ growth.
Maintaining a purposeful presence on social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) will allow you to engage your customers in a way that does not require your user-base to constantly visit your site for any updates. Don’t discourage users from interacting with you—connect with them.
Myth #8: “Wireframes Aren’t Helpful”
Despite the vital foundation wireframes create for the rest of the process, people aren’t always enthused about them —they want to get to the pretty part.
Wireframes aid WDG’s visual designers in understanding the structure of a site, its content needs, and the hierarchy of information that is presented on each page. Wireframes are also very valuable to clients, because this phase is where we begin to nail down exactly what they should expect during content input and the context it will exist within.
Have any more common myths or misconceptions that you’d like us to answer? WDG’s designers are standing by to answer all your questions. Interested in getting a project started? Contact us today!