People using your website are there on a mission

When people visit your website, they are there on a mission. They are there to get something done.

Your job is to understand what that something is and provide the easiest route that will help them achieve just that. Anything else is just a distraction.

As straightforward as it sounds, it’s hard. It’s hard because we are selfish enough to assume people have time for every crap we put on the screen. To expect they’ll actually read and consider and figure out how things work. That’s never the case.

Think of the last time you saw someone searching google. How many times did they click on the fourth result, even though it was clearly the correct one? Almost never. That’s because the first or second result, while not optimal, it vaguely resembled what they were looking for.

People don’t read, they skim through. They don’t pick the optimal choice, they pick the vaguely, barely resembling option. We don’t figure how things work, we click on stuff until we get it right.

Most people are in a hurry. Some are just not that good with computers. Others are being distracted all the time, either by their own thoughts (“is Jane being a bitch or I’m overreacting?“), or everyday stuff like chat, emails, notifications, etc.

Since we rarely get our users full attention, we should always build our websites and applications having this in mind: users are hurried, distracted, and possibly not that good at using a computer.

Take them by the hand (eyes) and guide them through the path they need to follow to achieve whatever they set out to achieve.