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Paul Scrivens is a passionate designer who runs Drawar and innovation consulting at Emersian. He loves design. He loves learning. He loves being wrong. That last one was a lie. Be sure to follow him on Twitter.
For years you have been searching for it. You hear the question being asked in your dreams as you go on an Indiana-Jones-type-crusade to find the answer. When the answer comes to you, you know that the confetti will fall from the ceiling and the band will start playing your favorite song. You might even get a kiss from that special someone. So what is this question? "What is the secret to Web design?"
A tough question and one that might not have an answer. In 2006, Oliver Reichenstein wrote that Web Design is 95% Typography. Some people loved it, others were not so amused. If Web design was based that much on typography, then what was the point of learning anything else? All you needed to do is understand the elements of typography and you were good to go.
There is a paradox that fits my life. Doesn't matter what aspect of my life I am talking about because it always seems to apply. Even more so when I think about this paradox and the design of this website and other websites. I really hate this paradox.
“To walk through the woods, you first need to walk halfway through. Then, once you’re in the middle of it, you still need to walk half of the remaining distance, then half of the distance again, and then another half, and you can never successfully make it through the woods.”
What if someone came to you and said, “I've designed this great website, but people don't stay on it. Why?” How would you respond? Would you ask them whether they have done extensive A/B testing? Would you recommend testing the usability of the website?
People like to test a number of metrics to see why people are not staying on a website. I think sometimes we spend so much time focusing on analytics that we throw common sense out the window. Don't get me wrong—analytics are a powerful tool for improving a website. But often the problem is right in front of your face.
In his book, The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz comes to an interesting conclusion involving human choice. “People choose not on the basis of what’s most important, but on what’s easiest to evaluate.” Common sense would dictate that if you were given a list of choices, you would choose the one that is most important to you, when in reality humans usually choose the one that is easiest for them to understand and evaluate.
Very often we do so because we don’t have the time to put in the research necessary to make an informed decision. Politicians are rarely elected based on the majority of people doing research on their background and the policies they support. They are elected for the fact that people can relate to the message they are spreading and because we have heard of them before.
Have you ever had someone flirt with you and they did nothing but demean themselves the whole time? Did that make you attracted to them? Doubtful. Yet, this is how so many individuals seem to handle their business today. With the advent of social media, the Web has been overflooded with individuals claiming that they are experts at everything. It has become so rampant that whenever I come to see someone label themselves as an expert I immediately believe they are trying to pull a fast one on me.
Unfortunately, many times these people get business because there are people out there who really do believe that they are experts. How many great designers do you know out there who struggle to find clients, while the world's worst Microsoft Frontpage jockey can't keep client offers out of his inbox? I know some of you reading this are dying to get more clients or more users to the app you created. Obviously, to get more people you need to let more people know about you and that doesn't happen unless you say something.