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Design For Users. Not For Yourself

5 October, 2008, Written by 0 comment

It`s not hard to find sites on the internet that dazzle and sparkle with lots of animation and special effects. However after the initial appeal wears off many such sites will actually drive visitors away. The reason being, that most online visitors come to your site with a purpose in mind. That purpose may be to obtain or transmit information or conduct some kind of transaction. Although pleasant aesthetics do play a role, the primary purpose of design is to facilitate user intentions.  Never sacrifice usability in the name of artistry.

A common example where this principle is broken is the so-called “mystery meat” navigation system, a term popularized by usability analyst Vincent Flanders to describe website interfaces in which it is inordinately difficult for users to discern the destinations of navigational hyperlinks or, in severe cases, even to determine where the hyperlinks are. We see this from time to time with web sites that have obviously been designed with maximum artistic effect in mind. The term “mystery meat” is derived from the experience of school cafeteria lunches where the contents of the meal are essentially unfathomable!

Although pleasant aesthetics do play a role, the primary purpose of design is to facilitate user intentions.

Inexperienced website builders are often to keen to flaunt their graphic design skills and all too often forget the ultimate purpose of their website is to enable visitor interaction. Next time someone suggest adding the latest bells and whistles to your website, take a step back and ask yourself whether you are really doing your web users any favors.

Watch the YouTube video by Vince Flanders to learn more about Mystery Meat.

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