When your website has an intuitive design, more people will use it. A key component of website navigation is its ease of use. This means that when people arrive at your site, they immediately know how to use it.
Realistically though, what does intuitive design mean? What does it look like? And how can we create an intuitive website? In this article, we’ll talk through the answers to all of these questions and show you how to create easy-to-use web design, as well as show examples of non-intuitive design.
Web design basics
When something is intuitive, it is invisible. When you can complete a task without thinking about it, you have an intuitive design.
For example, imagine you’re renting a car when on vacation. You’re taken to the car, handed the keys, and left to it. Only, you can’t work out how to get into the car as it has no door handle.
How would you get in? This is just one of many examples of non-intuitive design. When something isn’t intuitive, the focus is taken away from the task at hand. You’d typically approach a car and get in without thinking, but this time you just can’t.
Back to web design then. What does intuitive design mean here? Well, as long as your users can get what they want from your site without thinking, you’re fine. People won’t even appreciate how intuitive your design is – until it isn’t!
Intuitive for whom?
Intuitive web design will mean different things to different customers. People are all different. What is intuitive to a computer programmer won’t be as intuitive to a market stall trader, for example.
You can’t just create a website on WordPress, pick a style and design trend, and hope for the best. Even though the majority of websites are built with intuition in mind, a site can only be intuitive if those who use it feel as though it is.
With this in mind, you need to be considering who your site users are – and then work out what intuitive design looks like for them.
Even though a visitor might be accessing your site for the first time, they likely won’t have zero knowledge about what to expect there. They will have probably used similar websites or products before.
Let’s say you’ve shopped online at X store before but never Y, you’ll still have some knowledge about how online shops work and will likely be able to buy from Y store without much thought.
As long as you use sensible font packs, they’ll know what to do straight away. Anything other than simple, easy-to-read font examples, and you’ll struggle to get some people off the first page.
If your website doesn’t match the expectations of your users, they’ll need a lot more signposting, and it will be unintuitive to them.
Website navigation and search
The majority of consumers agree that easy navigation is the most important thing in web design. So, if your website has a lot of content, you’ll need to structure it all so that the site remains intuitive.
Don’t get all creative and name your menu items with words that aren’t obvious. It’s important that people know what is behind the link.
Around half of the people won’t buy from your site if the thing they’re looking for is not easy to find. Being able to search the site is vital. After all, you’d never find anything on Amazon without that centerpiece of a search box.
Using other sites apart from yours
Don’t forget, people use lots of other websites too. This means they expect a website to be a certain way. If you go all “out there” and be creative, they’re likely won’t enjoy it. Be conventional. For example:
- A single click on your design logo should bring users back to your home page;
- The final link horizontally or vertically in a menu should be the link to your ‘contact us’ page;
- Contact information should be available in the site footer;
- Ensure the scrollbar is visible so users know they need to scroll down;
- Links need to be obvious;
- Be consistent with elements and features and where they appear on each page;
- Use simple language.
There are exceptions when unconventional is better – for example, an artist’s website, but if you’re just selling clothing, it’s best to stick to what the other successful sites are doing!
Re-consider your design
If you have a consistent and repeat customer base, you might want to avoid overhauling your website with a huge redesign. Your most frequent users know how your website works more than anyone else so when you change it, it is these most important consumers who are most affected.
It’s not that you should stay the same forever. But think carefully about how and what you’re changing about your site.
When considering the layout, there are certain “rules” you can try to improve the customer experience. These include the Golden Ratio and the Rule of Thirds. These are two big concepts in art and design, and many website designers use them when creating an intuitive website.
While intuitive web design is essential, it’s not intuitive to web designers. At least not all, anyway. Aim to create an intuitive website for your main consumers. It’s this type of people who will lead to higher conversions and improved loyalty. Use analytics to study user behavior and seek help with user testing from people who are most familiar with your site and what they expect from it.