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Insist on useability

The other day a client asked me to comment on a landing page they’d designed for a specific mailing. They weren’t happy with it, but were unsure why not. To me, coming to the page “cold” (like a real visitor), the problem was easy to spot. Instead of the items on the page plotting a clear path for the reader, the various elements seemed to have been thrown down at random. It wasn’t hard to rearrange them. But the real thing that jumped out at me was the phrase “click on one of the panels below to select the item of interest”. What has happened to web design that we’re now including elements whose function is so unapparent they have to be explained? If you have a list of text links, you don’t have to say: “click on one of these links”, as everyone knows what a piece of blue underlined text does. Now, by all means use design flourishes to make the links look better, but don’t transform them to such an extent that you have to explain what they do. Who is that helping, apart from a designer who wants to win some sort of award?

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