This post is part of a series relating to how you should be designing your digital media endeavours. It focusses on various aspects that you can consider while approaching a campaign or transitioning to digital media. We hope to provide you with useful information that could serve as a learning tool for both designers and business owners alike.
The first part of the series focusses on introducing you to good design practices, and aspects you can consider while designing for increased business and improving your search visibility.
This part is motivated by increasing growth among the mobile segment of the internet, why should your website be accessible and how you can improve the trust and credibility of the content.
Design for Mobile
Analysts and trends have validated, that the next generation growth on the internet will be focussing on the mobile user. The first billion of users on the internet accessed content via the desktop or large enough screens on a laptop. The growth of users happened between users in the enterprise segment, research laboratories and universities, students and home users. But all of them accessed the internet predominantly through a common platform, i.e. the desktop or laptop computer.
It required a somewhat computer literate person to understand the navigation of a website, access information or make use of web applications. However, the next generation of users who are coming aboard the bandwagon are using the mobile as their primary gateway. Coupled with the internet-of-things, they are today using the internet to make day-to-day life easier, communicate in new ways and collaborate with content that reaches them on their mobile screen.
There is a marked difference in how users access websites on a desktop as compared to a mobile phone. Most of us will understand easily that there is limited real estate available on the mobile phone. Additionally, it is simpler if a person does not have to excessively pinch-to-zoom or scroll sideways during single handed operation. Thus, web designers use grid layouts along with fluid or responsive design setups to keep things organised. It’s a semantic approach to designing for mobile, and allows the programmer to prioritise the visibility of your content.
Ensuring functional usability, readability and speed of access while understanding the constraints of accessing rich content via mobile, is of utmost importance while designing websites and apps for the mobile phone. Programmers must also ensure cross-platform functionality and try to maintain consistency in user-experience to make it easier for the visitor to engage with your content.
Design for Accessibility
Designing for accessibility is most easily neglected by web developers, predominantly because their prevalence is not discussed as a priority while communicating the strategy or discussing the target audience. Thus, it is often seen that unless a business is having a specified target audience that deals with the differently abled, accessibility is not considered to be a part of the web design.
Let us consider the numbers you’re ignoring, while overlooking design for accessibility. According to reports published by WHO, over one billion people in the world live with one form of disability or another. Most products and services, unless being contrary to a specific disability, will cater to an inclusive audience. For example, a handbag can be bought for use by a woman regardless of whether she has any visual or hearing disabilities.
Considering the numbers, you are neglecting every seventh visitor to your website, if the design and content is not accessible. Most operating systems on the desktop and mobile are complete with accessibility aids that help differently abled users to be able to use the systems with considerable ease. It does not require excessive planning or investment to make your design accessible. In most cases, it is just about taking due care.
To summarise, one must look at design as an important aspect of your digital strategy, before stepping forward to spill out content about your business on the web. Some pointers that will lead to creation of a unique experience for your visitors can include:
Brand Consistency: Having strong values associated with your brand, will go a long way into creating and managing an experience for your visitors. When a visitor experiences your digital platform, you must consider him or her to be a customer who has walked into your store. The value you offer to your customer in the store should translate well to the perceived value you communicate on your digital platform.
Navigation: If your web designer is promising you a state of the art customer experience, do not forget to continuously challenge the navigation of your platform. While existing users of the internet have developed certain expectations around the way content will be delivered to them, via menus, and icons that have become surrogate symbols of expression; new users especially visitors on mobile devices will struggle with navigation if things are complex. The best trick is, keep your navigation simple and minimalistic, and follow convention as far as possible while implementing any complexity.
Trust: Trust is an ongoing relationship you have with society at large. Although, you will find many a certificate mechanisms that help build the credibility of your platform. But as an investor you will need to understand that apart from your business providing value and integrity to customers, you need to secure their interest against possible hack attempts from outsiders on the internet.
To understand this, consider setting up a gems & jewellery stall in an open-to-all public fair. In a situation like this, you will have visitors to your stall from all demographics & backgrounds, the credentials of whom you cannot be confident about. Potential customers will like to browse through a wide range of your products, and you’ll be excited at providing them with large shopping carts before they reach the payment gateway. While you will be working to ensure your products are secure until they are paid for, you will also have to ensure that customers interests are also safeguarded. In a real life situation, customers will be carrying money to your stall, to be able to buy your products, while on the web, they will come in with personal information, credit card numbers and bank accounts – all of which may be available to your potential perpetrators flocking on your website.
While in real life, one works to create security for the merchandise and customers alike, on the web similar steps need to be taken to make customers feel safe about visiting your website, subscribing to your content and making purchases from it.
You will like to capture your visitor’s information for improving your marketing campaigns, offering better services and securing transactions with your customers. It is a good practice to let your visitors know what information you are capturing, why you are capturing it and how you will be using that information, now and in the future.
Put all of the above together, and it translates to the “trust” of your website. The more trust you build with your visitors and customers, greater will be your website’s credibility, rankings and recommendations through social networks. Ultimately, it will translate into more success.
Although, we have digressed a little from the main theme around “design” for this article, we have tried incorporating many aspects that will go towards planning your digital media presence better and improving the user experience for your visitors.