So, you’re building a website — congrats! But before you start designing, dear readers, we have something very important (and possibly surprising) to tell you: when it comes to designing a website, it’s best to be predictable.
Designing a predictable site helps users get where they need to go quickly and easily because they intuitively know where to look for important things. This is especially important for health websites, because users may be stressed out or otherwise not feeling their best when they’re searching for health information.
In Don’t Make Me Think, Steve Krug says: “When you’re creating a site, your job is to get rid of the question marks.” In other words, users shouldn’t need to ask themselves questions like:
- Where am I?
- Where should I begin?
- Where did they put _____?
- Why did they call it that?
Years of usability testing with all sorts of folks has taught those of us at We ❤︎ Health Literacy Headquarters some important lessons about how to design websites for predictability. Here are some tried-and-true tips:
- Make sure your site has a clear, simple navigation
- Put your logo in the top left corner (bonus points if clicking on your logo takes the user back to the homepage!)
- Put your search bar in the upper right corner
- Put your contact information in the footer
- Use visual cues — like breadcrumbs or highlighting — to remind users where they are on the site
And don’t fret, dear readers: predictable doesn’t mean boring! You can still dazzle your users with a gorgeously designed website that’s easy to use and great to look at.
The bottom line: Design your website to be predictable — your users will thank you!