There’s nothing wrong with complex, expressive and distinctive page layout like swirling vines as long as it achieves the goals of the user and site owner –not just selfish ol’ designer self-aggrandizement. To design just to be fancy is wasting valuable mobile resources like bandwidth and screen space. So the big question is “Was the vine-decorated site usable on a mobile web browser?”
Lots of sites look nice on desktops and fail this simple test. Memorability is key in good branding. You remember the pleasant feeling most. It’s imprinted in your memory that way. Nobody is very brand loyal any more. Branding is now mere web signage to help me discover and recognize what I want.
UX is more holistic and visceral than just layout or navigation. It is subliminal. Pre-logic and anti-reason. It has to do with subconscious cuing happening in less than 50 milliseconds. It’s a matter of instant “liking”. NMR brain testing proves this “first-impression” judgment bypasses all chemical logic functions of the brain.
If you don’t instantly like a site then there is a major problem. You will be repelled by the site and never even listen to the offer. The door slams shut. It’s like a guy with a nose piercing and facial tattoo selling magazines on your doorstep. No trust or credibility. Suspicion.
There is a hierarchy of website body language features. I compare them to hurdles:
1. Speed. If it’s too slow (over 2 seconds), visitors immediately and subconsciously don’t like the UX. It bias everything from that moment towards “goodness or badness”. This is proven fact. People hate slow websites even if they think the reward is worth waiting for. You will be considered rude.
2. Aesthetics. In 50 milliseconds, people evaluate the body language of the site. Is it comfortable? Is it pleasing? Is it attractive? This is before they even click anything. Again this subconscious judgment biases the “goodness or badness”. Color selection is THE most critical element here.
3. Simplified content density. This is good use of white space and readability (not legibility). It is the feeling of being inviting. It’s a seduction.
4. Content relevance. You have to get past the above 3 barriers before you get to this level of detailed interest. Actual reading of headlines and subheads (words and labels). And even these have a hierarchy. Content is scanned first for value before investing reading time.
The goal is to imply “tending a nutritious balanced garden” as a metaphor. It can’t be just flowers. It has to have vegetables, too. Weeds must be removed.
Expressive design won’t by itself attract the subconscious mind –rather make it worse. Making the site different may only introduce confusion –because users really don’t want different. User testing is best by what they “do”, not what they “say”; this shows users desire web “sameness and consistency.” If a site isn’t unified and focused yet the mind isn’t at peace with a flow experience.
A side-by-side UX demo outweighs showing statistical results like page weight and load time and Google ranking. 🙂 That’s UX, too. Screenfly demonstrates the problem in real-time