Our tolerance for poorly designed or cluttered websites is less than ever before. In the late 90s and early 2000s, we’d click through glittery font, dancing .GIFs and poke around the Internet for hours to find information. But, that was then. And this is now.The speed, ease, uniformity and ubiquity of the Internet have us trained. We expect to find the information we want with just a Google search and a few clicks. If we can’t find what we want on a website in less than a few minutes (or seconds in some cases) we’re moving on.
A consistent web design is more important now than ever. The average person can navigate a typical website with ease. We’re familiar with the way a website should look and we have the expectation that each website should follow the same conventions to an extent.
As much as you want to design a cutting-edge site that breaks the rules and spawns a new generation of web aesthetics and usability, you probably shouldn’t.
Four Reasons to Be Consistent
1) People are Creatures of Habit:
From eating the same cereal every morning for years or wearing the same tie every Wednesday, everyone enjoys routine to an extent. While some claim to be extravagant, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, spontaneous risk-takers, even they have certain habits and rituals they never break. When it comes to navigating the web, everyone wants a simple, consistent experience. We are used to using the web a certain way, and we don’t want that changed. The outcry on Facebook itself every time Facebook changes is an excellent example of how irritated we are by changes. Your website should be consistent enough with the larger web experience to cater to the most habitual parts of our nature.
2) Digital and Physical Transition:
Having a website that is consistent with your company’s physical materials (brochures, pamphlets, business cards, etc.) is both professional and cohesive. If you already have an established email marketing campaign with a brand like ExactTarget, you should model your site around the aesthetic used in your email campaign. Or, if you already have a site and want to do email marketing, make the emails match your site. The transition from physical to digital materials will be much more comfortable and natural for your customers.
3) In-site Transitions and Short Attention Spans:
Each page of the site should be the same. Having a uniform look for your website will look more professional and avoid making users feel that they’ve stepped into an entirely different domain each time they visit a new page of your site. Use the navigations we’re used to seeing and place them either on the top or side of the page so users don’t have to search around. Going along with this idea, you should realize that your customers probably have a short attention span for your website. They are not going sit and click for five minutes. If they can’t find what they need, or if they feel confused, they’ll go elsewhere.
4) Establish Your Style:
Finally, you can use your website and online presence to help establish a style. Strengthen your company’s brand by making your online style and branding consistent with your offline marketing materials.
If you feel the need to design something too cutting edge, remember these few tips for what customers like on the web. You can have fun and be creative with a design while still catering to that need for consistency in all of us.
Guest Post By Megan Brown
Megan Brown is a social media networker at Slingshot SEO. In her spare time, she enjoys cycling, blogging, volunteering, and hanging out with her furry sidekick, her yorkie Alexa. Follow her on twitter (@thatgirlmegan) or check out her blog: www.thatgirlmegan.com