Einstein once said, “Keep it as simple as possible but not too complicated.” Your website may leave users frustrated. Businesses want their websites to be clean and simple. However, too many details can lead to confusion.
Innovative and intuitive designs can be simple. UX designers often mistake simplicity for minimalism. Although a product might look simple, it may have hidden UI complexities that can prove overwhelming to users. Although the concept might sound complicated, it is actually quite simple. Design decisions that focus on minimalism can increase a user’s cognitive load which may lead to a less intuitive user experience. Clickable icons may be used as examples. They might not include text descriptions, non-standard gestures or illustrations.
The controversial hamburger menu is one example. The three-line icon is a confusing one. It can contain a lot more information and functions than a simple box. Many app users don’t use it. Research suggests that simple changes can make a hamburger menu more useful. For example, clicking the “menu” icon 7.2% more often, while placing the hamburger menu in a box increases clicks by 22.4%. Clicks increased by 20% when the three lines were replaced with a “menu” button.
So, even the best intentions can result in UX failure. It’s easy to scan the hamburger menu’s simple design, which is three horizontal lines. It is not a common icon and can mean different things to different people. It does not say “Hey!” There are many more features you can look at.
The hamburger menu also hides valuable content for your users. You make it harder for people to find what you have by locking it away in the hamburger menu. Although your website may look nicer, it is also less intuitive. This is an excellent example of minimalism and not simplicity.
Minimalism Doesn’t Have to Mean Simplicity
There are many examples of minimalist aesthetics causing confusion on the internet. Here are a few:
- The Fitbit Flex. Fitbit has earned a reputation for providing simple and easy ways to track fitness and improve health. The Flex, their budget-friendly offering, can be a little confusing. The entire interface can be managed by users using a series of taps, just like all Fitbit tools. This is how you manage the Fitbit tool, unlike other models. There are no buttons or intuitive ways to navigate the options. A double tap will show you how far you have made towards your goal of walking, and another series of taps will place your tracker into sleep mode to keep track of rest. The tap-based Fitbit method is sleek and easy to use, but it does not allow for intuitive user interaction. Users will need to carefully read the instructions in order to make the most out of the band. This is an impossible task for our virtual attention span.
- The overload menu. The overload menu is similar to the hamburger menu. While some companies use an (…) ellipsis button, others use a “more”. These seem like great design tricks. Designers can remove unnecessary complexity and create a clean, simple interface for users. The problem is that you didn’t remove important information. You just hid it from users. You’re not actually addressing the core of your website or application with an overflow menu. Instead, you are simply covering it up.
Simple Design that Balances Simplicity with Intuitive Design. Basic Definitions
So how can designers strike the right balance between a clear design and an intuitive one? Know what you want. Simplicity in design means a lack of complexity, which increases user experience. Simple websites are simple to use, easy to understand, and intuitive to navigate. They also provide a pleasant experience for users.
A design principle is a minimalism or cleanliness. Sites that are minimalist have lots of whitespaces, and they don’t reflect a user’s experience. These sites are more about form than function. It is what it looks that matters, and not what it does.
Because websites are not simple with fewer options and buttons, these two concepts should be distinguished. Although it may look cleaner, it can cause confusion and degrade the user experience. Designers should not sacrifice usability in favor of a minimalist style. Instead, it can hinder usability and cause users to have difficulty using your site or application.
Websites such as Craigslist and Facebook don’t have minimalist designs. They have very little whitespace and can sometimes appear cluttered. It’s not difficult to understand. Your grandmother probably has a Facebook profile. Users know how to locate the information they need. Designers hear a lot about making their websites visually appealing, but they often mistake simplicity for beauty.
How to Make Your Site Attractive and Intuitive
Designers are faced with a dilemma: How can they create a website that is both attractive and intuitive? With the right approach, it’s possible. These are some tips to help you get started:
- Use common sense and follow Hick’s law All designers are likely to be familiar with Edmund Hick, a British psychologist who demonstrated that people’s decision-making abilities were proportionately affected based on their choices. This means that the more options a user have on their screen, the higher the cognitive load. You don’t have to limit submenus to all options. Your most appealing options should be displayed on the homepage. This will give your users enough choices and freedom to navigate, without making it difficult for them to make a decision. Submenus can be used to include additional information. However, you should use labeling and standardized gestures instead of icons.
- Smart Signifiers are a great way to help users navigate your site. Any visual cue that assists a user to navigate your website is called a signifier. Standardized signifiers (i.e. Standardized signifiers)
- Strategically use color. Designers know the importance of color in users’ minds. Red, for example, can be associated with power, passion, energy, and wealth, while green could signify social responsibility or wealth. Color communicates the mood of your brand easily without using long blocks of text.
- Use the Principles of Symmetry. Although symmetry is an easy way to increase visual appeal, there are many forms of it. Every principle of symmetry can have a different effect on the viewer, just like colors. These principles will help you balance simplicity and information on your website.
The Bottom Line
Although your website may look clean, it doesn’t necessarily make it intuitive. Simple websites are more about usability than their appearance. Use the fundamental principles of design to create a visually appealing and intuitive website. Sometimes designers can get caught up in aesthetics, using tricks to create a clean appearance. However, when it comes down to user experience, it is best to stick to the basics.