Considering Human Factors on Your Business Website

Every business website places a significant cognitive load on users, who basically learn to use a new piece of application software for each site they visit. The more your site conforms to web conventions and to the reality of the human mind, the easier it is to use. Visitors reward your efforts by staying on the site.

Some human factors to consider as you design your site include:

  • The brain is built for recognition, not recall. Don’t make your users try to remember what icons mean or how to find information.

  • The brain likes the number seven. Seven seconds is the limit for short-term memory. It is also the number of things that most people can remember at once (so don’t overwhelm them with choices) and the number of times they need to see a name or ad to remember it.

  • Contrast helps the mind organize information. Contrast in design might occur in type, color, empty space, or size.

  • Brains like patterns. Group objects by function or appearance and use consistent page design and site operation to give your viewers a boost.

  • Users need reassurance. Provide feedback within a reasonable time, such as thanking a visitor for submitting a form.

  • The kinesthetic experience of click actions reinforces a message. Ask visitors to click to request something, download an item, or submit information. The act of checking a box on an order form puts shoppers in the mindset to buy.

  • Provide easily accessible help to use the site.

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