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Web traffic can be a great informational tool that explains who is visiting your website and from where your visitors are coming. Using an analytics tracking tool like Google Analytics will provide a breakdown of many statistics about your website such as number of visits and visitors, visit length, links referring visitors to your site, and visitors’ geography (among many, many others). Having these figures on hand can assist in fine-tuning marketing programs and making your website more efficient in displaying information (or converting prospects to sales if that is applicable). If you see that a disproportionate number of visitors all go to the same page, this is in an indicator that what is featured on that page is one of the main reasons visitors are coming to your site. Maybe you could make it easier to go directly to that page or engage in a marketing push if a certain product page is overwhelmingly popular. Regularly looking at your web traffic analytics is a great way to get the other half of the picture in terms of where your users are going (and guessing why).

Some design philosophy posits that the design of something should go almost unnoticed because it functions so well that everything else besides the intended function is transparent and unobtrusive. This method of design which focuses on user experience over all else can take many forms: not everything needs to adhere to the ultra-minimal modern aesthetic, but if it can be used easily by the target audience, or even better yet a wide portion of the population, then it is a successful design. Adding more aesthetic elements can become superfluous is they do not fulfill any functional roles. Each addition to a page’s layout adds an element that will demand some attention - adding too many elements can distract from important calls-to-action and navigational items. In short, a website should strive to be aesthetically pleasing, but functionality should rule the day in most design decisions.

When developing a website, there is a tool to use to gauge interest in a particular feature without having to build out the entire functionality of the feature. This is called a feature stub. Using a feature stub allows web developers to see if the demand for new functionality is enough to warrant the time investment in building additional capabilities into a site. A feature stub can take the form of a button or call-to-action; when the user clicks or interacts with the feature stub, it will usually redirect to a page explaining that the feature is in development or coming soon. The webmaster or developer can track the site traffic to determine how many people have clicked on the feature stub and compare it to overall traffic to see if there is enough demand to warrant building the actual feature. Using this method saves time by prioritizing which features should be built out while providing more information on your users’ desired functionality.

In web design, originality does indeed go a long way. However, much experimentation and originality works because it is supported by long-standing conventions that users have grown accustomed to. For instance, on many pages the sign-out or profile icon is in the upper right-hand corner. By keeping this in mind, pages that use this convention make their layout intuitive to users who are accustomed to this location and as a result using the site is very easy, even for first-timers. Designing with conventions does not have to be limiting - choices for individual site elements may not conform to the current conventions and are better served using their own rules. In the long run, conventions have helped build a consistent language for the web so that users can use almost any site reasonably well.