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Inside the Website User's Mind

Mar 10th 2011 at 10:40 PM

With an extremely limited window of time available, surfers look for sites that are not only packed with helpful information but are easier to navigate, attractive, and compelling.

Thus, before rushing off to your web designer, it is important to know how Internet users think and behave. At the most basic level, users are no different from customer’s habits in a store. They glance at a product, scan the image or text on the packaging that catches their interest, and buy it if they decide it satisfies their needs. The same goes with the users of a website.

1. Users look for credibility and quality content.

Have you ever wondered why some plain-looking websites enjoy far better traffic than many flashy ones? Take time to read the text. Most of the time, you will discover that they have top-quality content that is interesting, informative, entertaining, or useful that compels you to stay on that page. Remember that content is the soul of the website and, thus, as equally important as the design that it supports.

2. Users are impatient and seek immediate satisfaction.

A user operates on a very simple principle: if the website does not meet his expectation, then the designer failed miserably, and the business loses money and opportunities. Users follow their intuition, and the less spontaneous their navigation and experience in your website are, the more likely they will leave. They usually do not have time or care to read the rest of the information even if it answers their questions or alleviate their confusion.

3. Users do not read the entire page; they scan it.

Users tend to initially look for a fixed point in the website. Thereafter, in the space of a few seconds, their eyes move from left to right at an extremely fast pace. This reading pattern has the following components:

  • Users do not read your text in a word-for-word manner. People who completely read the text during the first visit are very rare indeed.
  • Users give most of their attention on the first two paragraphs in the page. Thus, these critical pages must contain the most important information.
  • Users are drawn to subheads, titles, and bullet points with words that carry a lot of information.

4. Users want control.

Website users want to be in command of their own browser, depending on consistent data presentation throughout the pages. For example, they do not want new windows to suddenly pop up. They want the back button to function as it should. They want links to work and lead them somewhere.

Always keep these users’ browsing habits in mind when you design a website to make it a great experience.

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