By: JP Rickabaugh
As the media landscape keeps evolving, it’s not enough to just have good content anymore. There are legions of competitors out there creating excellent content all vying for viewers’ attention. So how can you make your content and the website you present it on stand out?
The key is in presentation, and that’s where User Interface and User Experience design (also known as UI/UX) comes into play. By using efficient UI/UX design strategies not only will your content pull people in, but the ease of access will increase the number of people consuming your content substantially.
In our experience with UI/UX design, we have found two concepts to be invaluable.
Complex systems complicate, and simple systems liberate.
When working on a project that you’re truly invested in, your inner perfectionist can sometimes try to weave everything together in a complex, artful way.
And while you may be immensely proud of how you connect hundreds of moving parts, that vision will be lost on the majority of people interacting with your content because they don’t see it the same way you do.
This is why simplicity is key. If you want to maximize engagement with your content, you need to make sure it’s easily accessible to everyone. Sometimes that takes swallowing some pride, but it’s worth it for the results.
Here’s an example: A year or so ago, I was working on reorganizing the menu a client’s website. To be honest, the menu as it stood was… a mess. Imagine a menu with well over 5 dozen options, not all of which were organized in a way that made sense. The amount of choices here were not only confusing – they were entirely unnecessary.
Now the website has easily cut those numbers in half, with a much more straightforward menu.
When navigating the old website, using the menu immediately led to feelings of being overwhelmed, confused and uninterested in continuing to use the site. With the new simplified menu, there is no longer a roadblock in the way of finding the content you want to find.
This change is exactly why making sure your website, or other online content, is as simple and easy to navigate as possible.
So, simplicity is essential. But what else?
Show. Don’t tell.
These three words are a visual design mantra, used by professors to professionals. So, how can we achieve this?
First and foremost, avoiding massive walls of text will do wonders. When people click on a website or an article, if it’s not easily digestible, large amounts of people will be turned away. People are busy, and they don’t want to have to dedicate a large chunk of time to engaging with content unless it’s content they love.
Instead, keeping paragraphs brief but to-the-point will not only spread your message to readers faster.
As the word “show” implies, visual elements are essential to keeping people interested and engaged. Pictures and graphics are the first things that come to mind with this – placing aesthetically pleasing and attention-grabbing graphics in the right place can make or break your content.
But images alone aren’t the key to “showing” your content properly. It’s important to understand how people read and browse when they’re on their computers and phones. Eye-tracking software has found time and time again that people’s eyes follow specific patterns when reading and browsing. Without going into too much detail, two of the most common patterns are known as the “F” pattern and the “Layer Cake” pattern.
In the F pattern, people start in the top left, look towards the right, then go down – much like how you would traditionally read a book. In the Layer Cake pattern, users will hone in on key graphic elements and headers, and then scan the content below or nearby. By letting patterns like this inform your design, you can essentially control how people read your content by positioning it in ways that you know people naturally gravitate to.
In a world where everyone has access to websites, social media, and other online platforms for content distribution, it’s more important than ever to do everything you can to make your content stand out – both in the content itself and how it’s presented.
Keeping these concepts in mind and using them as much as possible could be what allows your website to go from good to great. Good UI/UX design alone won’t define your brand – so make sure to read this article about how to the importance of solid visual branding and how to establish yours!