The 3 Ways to Design the Web for Impatient People

When I was a kid, I remember my father re-modeling our kitchen for my mother. It was made to order with one exception – the microwave. My mother had never used a microwave before, but it was the latest greatest thing to have one.

I remember that microwave collecting dust for what seemed like years – on occasion, it would get fired up to boil water or re-heat pizza. But as life became more of a faster pace – the microwave became more utilized.

Now what does all this have to do with website design? Well – the faster our lives get, the more impatient we get. There’s a fascinating trend happening though – bandwidth is increasing and websites are incorporating everything from video backgrounds to massive images – slowing down our user-experience.

So, how can we speed up the website user-experience for impatient people?

1. Site Search
I must admit – I usually include site search if the site content could be considered ‘robost’. But the reality is that site search is something that should be on every website regardless of content depth.

2. Scan-able Content
Small, digestible chunks of content is scan-able. Visitors can easily skim over the site and find what they’re looking for without scouring through mind-numbing content. There’s a rule in graphic design – it’s actually a very good way to differentiating good designers from great designers. Signal, information, pause. The signal attribute is applied to the headline – is it large enough pass the ‘squint test’. The ‘squint test’ is a test that allows designers to see different values in typography – the greatest value is your signal. It stops you in your tracks and tells the visitor to ‘start here’. Information applies to the actual content and it’s total value should be equal to the ‘signal’. Pause is exactly what it says – it’s the white space between signal and allows the reader to cognitively understand the content has stopped. Think of it as a crescendo in music. In the days of Mozart and Beethoven – crescendos would build up over a few minutes – to inform the audience that the music was coming to an end, or wake people up to know when to applaud.

3. Information Hierarchy
Aren’t the best sandwiches the ones with the right amount of ingredients? Just because you’ve piled a half-pound of meatballs on your sandwich, you don’t want or even need a half-pound of pickles. Same with your content – put your most important information at the top. And you might also be shocked at the idea that the information about how wonderful your company is – not important. It’s all about the customers – they don’t care how wonderful you think you are.