When you’re trying to design a good website you can choose nice colors and fonts, get your layout sorted and you might get a few hits. But if you’re serious about creating a successful website, you need to get inside the mind of your visitors. Understanding what makes them tick and knowing exactly what goes on in their brains when they navigate a website is the key to getting them to keep coming back. Read this quick guide to the psychology of web browsing to help improve your own site.
It’s human instinct to want to be in control of a situation at all times. Believe it or not, that translates into the way that we view websites. When you go onto a site and I see a video loading automatically, you may immediately click the pause button, even if you want to watch the video in a few moments. The reason that you may do this is because you probably want to decide when to watch the video.You don’t want it forced on you as soon as you click onto the page; in other words, you want to maintain control. Most people have the same reaction and they’re actually less likely to watch videos or listen to audio at all if it starts playing automatically.
Letting people choose how they navigate the site on their own is an important part of the user experience (UX). Read a guide to UX design to find out more about what it is and how it can help you. In terms of maintaining control, it’s key that you make the interface easy to use, but don’t suggest any particular way for somebody to operate the site.
When somebody visits your site, they’ll have certain expectations about how the site should function. Those expectations are tied into that feeling of control, so if their expectations aren’t met, they’ll feel as though they’ve lost control and they might even leave the site. Those expectations are usually fairly basic, so you have some room for innovation. However, always maintain the key elements of a great website. For example, if you visit a site that doesn’t have a menu where you can choose categories, or a search bar, that immediately gives you a bad impression. Your expectations about what a website should be have been broken and you don’t know where to go next.
Every single person has a response to stress and there are all sorts of things on a website that can trigger them. Videos that play automatically are one thing that can cause feelings of stress and make people associate your site with bad feelings. Another common thing that people really find stressful on a website is long pages of copy that involve a lot of scrolling – particularly if they go too far and lose their place on the page. One simple way of reducing stress and maintaining that feeling of control is to use sticky menus that follow the reader as they scroll down.
Understanding the way that your readers think can help you avoid things that will make the website experience stressful and unpleasant