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Blog / Design And Usability

Usability – making your site work harder

At 56 Degrees we take web design very seriously.

We ensure that every website we create looks great and is easy to navigate. We can do this
because we understand the key principles of user behaviour such as: what people like, what
they don’t like, how they use a site, and how and why they take action.

By implementing certain design elements in a website your visitors will be encouraged to stay
longer, visit more often and get more engaged in your product or service.

There is so much information about design and usability out there but we’ve picked out a few
things we think are particularly important and interesting.

But first… a couple of quick questions
• What influences your users’ decisions?
• What decision-making strategies do they use?
• How does your design affect decision outcomes?

User Interface Design (UID)
From the things you use everyday – your television, your phone, your cooker – through to
military aircraft, vehicles, and airports, UID is used. It makes products easy to use and logical to
understand. Website design follows the same principles.

At 56 Degrees we encourage usability testing when designing and developing a website. This
helps us and our clients really understand how an organisation’s visitors use their website and
what can be done to improve it. If end-users feel your site is not easy understand or is difficult
to use, they will simply leave your site, feeling let down and frustrated. And that’s not good for
you or your business.

Good UID can change how visitors use and relate to your site. This results in greater user
acceptance, happier visitors and happier customers. And happy customers will visit more often
and make more purchases, directly affecting your bottom line.

Decision Architecture
Studies have shown that people can make judgments about websites in as little as 50
milliseconds and that their initial judgments persist. What will they think of your site?

Research has revealed that the way people actually make a decision is very different from how
we think they do. Decision architecture is about understanding this and then designing websites
that encourage good decision making by its users. At 56 Degrees we know that we must design
your website not only for the optimal organisation of information, but also for optimal decision

In general, people tend to be rather lazy when it comes to expending effort to make decisions.
They will quickly decide whether your website is something they like or whether it is of interest
or use to them. Unless people have a particular incentive or a compelling reason for making
more effort to understand and engage with your site, they are likely to leave.

56 Degrees work hard to design and create websites that engage your visitors both emotionally
– whether consciously or subconsciously – and logically. We take care to understand a site’s
graphic design, use of color, layout and the words you choose. But we also make sure that the
navigation makes sense and there isn’t too much complex information on the pages so the
logical part of the decision making process doesn’t have to work too hard.

A few tips
1. Ensure consistency. If you can double-click on items in one list and have something happen,
then you should be able to double-click on items in any other list and have the same sort of
thing happen.

2. Put your buttons in consistent places on all your windows, use the same wording in labels and

3. Conform to the standards and expectations that are used across all website design and for the
majority of sites as this will breed confidence. Doing something different may appear quirky but
it will result in your visitors having to work harder.

3. Navigation is important. If it is difficult to get from one screen to another, then your users will
quickly become frustrated and give up.

4. Messages and labels should be worded consistently and displayed in a consistent place on the

5. Use color appropriately, sparingly and consistently and ensure there is a common look and
feel across your website.

6. Don’t try to do too much on one page: crowded screens are difficult to understand and
difficult to use.

So… remember:
A website that is difficult to navigate or understand, or doesn’t appeal emotionally or logically,
won’t be used. It doesn’t matter how beautiful it is, or how technically superior, if your users
don’t like it they simply won’t use it.

By focusing on your user first, 56 Degree will create an website that lets them achieve their
goals whether its to make a purchase, donate to a cause, or sign up for a service and ultimately
create real business benefit for you.