Why are website designers giving us simpler and more stress-free user experience?

If only life were more simple right?

In a world filled to the brim with information, communication and smartphone planners, how do we hit the stop button and take ourselves off warp speed? What even got us on the priority lane to burn out in the first place?

It’s a sweet paradox that the latest technologies are hungrily consumed because they promise to save us time and energy but are actually the main instigators of fatigue, stress and yes, having less time.

Our lives are so busy and littered with tech that we are now going full circle by wanting a mammoth sized time out from it all. Users are now logging off and bouncing away from websites much more easily and without a moment’s hesitation.

Build me a road to paradise

How does this affect website design?

A functional website is no longer enough to stand out from the crowd. A website now needs to be beautiful, seamless, and completely in tune with how users surf and interact with a site.

In the fast pace world of 2018, the main challenge coders and UX designers face is successfully ridding us of unnecessary time-wasting features and navigation. The most popular sites and the highest user retentions now come from the dream of dreams – quick and easy information that leads us on a beautiful trip directly from A to B.

Users no longer want to scan through a site to find the information they need, they don’t have time to find the needle in the haystack. They want the right information thrown at them, and preferably within 2-5 seconds.

The harsh reality is that browser back buttons give people an all too easy exit strategy to your other 15 competitors sitting pretty on Google.  People are more willing to opt out and try another website if you give them a crystal maze style website journey.

Over the rainbow

The most popular time-saving designs hit the right balance between simple but not oversimplified. Good designers create enough complexity to keep someone’s attention span but not too much to burn out their already highly charged brain sockets.

Linear design is one of the most popular website design styles because it follows a chronical or beginning-middle-end format. Instead of just having a drop-down menu at the top of the screen, linear websites have all the necessary links or nudges to other parts of the website throughout the homepage.  As you scroll down suggestions follow you along, reminding you that there are plenty more pots of gold within the website. Linear design is also continually adapted over time by analysing user experience and wrapping the website journey around the user.

Some other popular time-saving features include:

  • Minimalist inspired navigation – design that encourages the minimal number of steps needed, from when a user clicks to when they take the intended action. Proactive design, eye-catching and optimised buttons, nudge features and easy-access menus are all added to produce Hansel and Gretel style bread crumbs, so you get right to where you need to be and don’t get lost on your way.
  • Automated suggestions –  basically personalised suggestions which are based on a user’s former navigation history, and works best with member based websites. Coders and UX designers can using past user experience data, to predict what someone might like in the future and which will increase the likelihood of suggesting something that peaks the user’s interests and in turn, improves user satisfaction. 
  • Visually rich content – combining engaging content with pictures, videos, moving graphics and fluid design to help break up information and guide the eye to the intended information more quickly. The idea is to sprinkle bits of sparkle across a site by combining multiple visual mediums. Visually rich content works particularly well if you want a user to focus on a call to action or a part of the website which encourages interaction.

Knowing me, knowing you

In the end, websites need to mirror our own lives. A good website design has to be both technically awesome and in tune with the modern Zeitgeist. Building a successful website is about blending ground-breaking design, elegant imagery, swish code and listening to your audience.

Putting the spotlight firmly back on the user and having your ear to the ground is paramount for predicting any impending stampede towards change. In 2018, people need stress-free convenience, and savvy websites designers are building exactly such a world for us, brick by streamlined brick.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.