Today there’s a great article on Smashing Magazine that talks about how many websites are designed poorly and require instructions on the page so the user knows what to do.  Too many times we’re confronted with a website design decision that can either be executed in a way that will be intuitive and every person, no matter how intelligent or how sophisticated they are, will just get it, or it can be executed in a way that requires instructions.

I was hit by this recently when we were assembling some shelves that we purchased.  We’ve all seen instructions that were written in English by someone who clearly didn’t speak English as their first language.  How frustrating is that?  You spend twice the time it should take, simply because the instructions are poorly written.  Anyway, the shelves that we bought were so beautifully designed, they didn’t even require instructions.  It was apparent how to build them.  They could only be put together one way.  You couldn’t really mess it up.  They included instructions for those who wanted them, but even the instructions were so beautifully illustrated that they didn’t need any words.  It didn’t matter if you spoke English or Chinese, you could assemble them based on the pictures.

Now look at the Web.  Why is it that we see so many sites that require instructions in order to use them?  Use this browser, not that one.  Click here to do this.  Enter your information here.   The article in Smashing Magazine asserts that too many web designers create sites for “unsophisticated users” and fill their sites with instructions, assuming that their users need them. However, the problem is, that the more sophisticated users are bogged down with a poorly designed site that’s filled with unneeded instructions.  On the other hand, what if the site were just designed to be intuitive in the first place?  What if it didn’t need instructions?  Why is it that one set of shelves needs instructions to assemble and another set of shelves doesn’t need them?  It’s in the design.  Great design is great for everyone.  It helps both the unsophisticated and the sophisticated users.  It increases conversion rates.  It keeps people on the site longer and causes them to visit more pages.  It’s a no-brainer.

To read the full article, click on the link below.   (Sorry.  Those are instructions.  Let’s try it this way…)

Here’s the full article.

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