As you can imagine, because we design and build websites, and write the content for them, we spend a lot of time looking at the internet. We’re constantly amazed at the poor user experience we encounter.
You might be forgiven for thinking that ‘user experience’ or UX, is just one of those phrases that litter technical and corporate speak. That’s true to some extent, but the problem isn’t with the phrase itself, but with the lip-service paid to it by many companies and web designers.
The underlying purpose of a website is convey information to people. Some websites have terrible information, so they have already got off on the wrong foot. The most common sort of ‘terrible information’ is where there isn’t enough, or it’s too general. We’ll come back to this in a minute.
Then there are the sites which have good information … but they present it badly. By presenting it badly, they make it difficult for humans to find what they are looking for, and to absorb what the website is saying. Err … what was the purpose of having a website?
Take client ‘X’. We wrote the website copy for client ‘X’, but we didn’t build their website. When we look at their site, we have to peer at the screen, even though our eyes are not bad and there’s nothing wrong with our computers. It’s difficult to read because the font has characters which are too thin, and the text is pale grey on a white background. You’ve probably come across lots of sites with pale grey text – it’s a current fashion, and many web designers appear to be a slave to it. Have you got pale grey text on your website? For goodness sake change it for something closer to black, and give your visitors a break!
We’ll be generous and assume designers have a reason for making websites difficult experiences for the visitors.
That reason is often the design. We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve been asked to write copy to fit tiny spaces in the design. Writing concise and meaningful text is one of the (many) skills a copywriter acquires as part of their training … but there are limits. Designers can be adamant that their design is sacrosanct, and in the end it comes down to what is most important for the client. If design ‘wins’, the site is often terrible at conveying its message because there isn’t enough content – this was mentioned above.,
We see many other instances of the design leading instead of complimenting – lines of text which are too long, text which is centre or even right-justified, and a lack of headings. Each of these can make it difficult for the visitor to read and comprehend the message.
Why would you do that?