The Usual Suspects: Applied Design Principles

Good web design does not just appear by chance, there are many aspects of design that come together to achieve it. This first of a series of articles explores four (web) design principles that will mark a starting point, if considered, to make your website aesthetically pleasing, easy to use, engaging, and effective. As we provide a free website-testing service for all GI-Mail readers, we like to invite you to submit your website through our submission form to receive a free report of your site’s current state. Feel free to submit your site here.


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#1 Aesthetic Usability Effect
The Aesthetic Usability effect describes a phenomenon in which an attractive design of a website will be perceived as easier to use than a less aesthetic one whether it is or not (2) . Users also tend to foster more positive associations towards an appealing interface design which also has the effect that users are more likely to return to your website, are more forgiving on the occurrence of errors, will give you positive reviews and of course recommend you to others.

#2 Aesthetic Consistency
Aesthetic Consistency will improve the usability of your website drastically and is an essential for creating a unique identity. The main ingredient to achieve an aesthetic consistency is to express similar parts of a website in a similar way. To achieve functional consistency you need to make sure that the possibilities of the actions provided (e.g. buttons, symbols, icons) have a consistent affordance (3). Next to creating a unique identity through a consistent design (4) users will perceive your website as easier to use, because they don’t have to learn new tricks as they navigate your sites.


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#3 Entry Point

To be frank, people do judge books by their covers the same as they judge websites by their first page. A positive initial impression given by a thoughtful designed index page is the best way to get your users attached to your provided services as it enables them to get to the information they’ve come searching on your website. Also an effective entry point should allow visitors to quickly orient themselves with where they are now and where they can go. So don’t use splashscreens, popups and other distractions which could lead to users abandoning your site.


#4 Hick’s Law (Hick-Hyman Law)
»Hick’s Law« (5)  states the time it takes for a person to make a decision as a result of the available options: increasing the number of options will increase the decision time. E.g. the navigation on your website: the more options you present your users, the more time they have to invest to get to the information they’re looking for and the higher the probability of users leaving your website. Crucial here is to build an information hierarchy and architecture that states clearly which information should be more dominant and which less


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What’s Next?

Next time we will take a closer look on how you can influence the way your website design is perceived by your users. Meanwhile do not forget to submit your website for the going international digital health check: Fill out the submission form and receive your free digital report.

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Tip: More up to date information can be found online in the Education Database »medicine & health«.

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