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2015: The Year of Usability and Performance Websites?

Performance Websites

While it is difficult to predict what “advances” will be made in web design in 2015, there will no doubt be many new developments. Whatever appears, it will be an attempt to attract more visitors and improve conversions. In the midst of all sorts of amazing design innovations, most people struggle to remember that bread-and-butter issues such as usability and quick loading are still the most important factors for a successful site.

Lip service is paid to the importance of usability, but designers or website owners often become infatuated with new techniques and implement them, irrespective of their effect on the user experience. While you are forced to marvel at sites with amazing parallax designs, don’t just assume that they result in high conversions.

While such designs might attract visitors who are curious about the graphics, performance may be abysmal. Quick loading is an area of usability which is probably most neglected: even iconic sites like Facebook are a usability nightmare when accessed via mobile apps. Testing needs to be done using a range of platforms – but especially mobiles – and quick loading and reduced memory usage needs to be stressed in design and programming.

|Performance by Design

“Performance by Design” is a concept whose time has come, and deserves to be taken seriously. It is hard to program a performance website unless it has been designed with response in mind. Even ultrafast VPS hosting with a CDN can struggle to speed-up a clumsy design. Of course, developers must also be aware of the benefits of lazy-loading and other ways of increasing performance.

Surveys show that website speed is more important for a good conversion rate than fancy gimmicks: most people are not prepared to wait for a site to load if it takes more than a second or two. Even the major social sites need to start paying more attention to speed of loading or risk losing popularity, with so many of their visitors using mobiles these days.

Minimalist and flat designs are a move in the right direction, but don’t forget you need to communicate with and engage your users. The example of Amazon shows that a dated design can still be a top performer, perhaps because it is so easy to use intuitively and has excellent response times.

When you are considering using a new, exciting, graphical technique, don’t forget the impact it might have on performance and usability. You don’t want your users to have to work their way through a maze to the payoff – most simply won’t bother. Familiar conventions and designs make visitors feel more secure and comfortable. Only consider genuine improvements which provide obvious benefits and a better UX.

If you have any questions, need a usability audit or if you have a corporate redesign scheduled for 2015, feel free to get in touch about the best direction your company can take for your given audience and business goals.

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