Goldfish have a three second memory. Swallowed chewing gum will stay in your stomach for seven years. The Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure visible from space.
Today, we know those “facts” to be myths, and delight in debunking them when presented as truth. But in the business world, we’re not always so quick to identify and expose the myths that prevail.
Here, we’ve addressed three common design myths that can be seen impacting websites, products and apps to this day. In believing these myths, businesses could actually be creating inferior experiences for their customers.
1. Icons are easier on the eye, and easier to use
Visual icons are more memorable and engaging than text labels, right? Wrong.
It’s true that when a visitor lands on your website, they typically don’t want to read reams of content. The same is true of apps and software products – users don’t expect a wall of words presented to them upon entry.
But that doesn’t mean that every piece of content should be swapped with a picture. Particularly with regards to labels and buttons, icons don’t equate to ease of use.
In fact, overusing icons makes your website or application design difficult to navigate, and unnecessarily confusing. Visually, icons may be ‘cool’ and appealing. Practically, though, the reality is that icons don’t always convey meaning.
Think of it this way: most icons aren’t universally recognised, whereas text labels are clear, helpful, and tell the consumer exactly what they’re clicking on. Text may be unglamorous, but it’s also unambiguous. So, rather than relying on icons alone, try using them alongside text labels to eliminate guesswork.
2. Your digital design should be consistently updated
You want to keep your design looking fresh. As understandable as that is, it doesn’t mean that you should be repeatedly renovating your website or product.
Your existing customers are familiar with your design. In terms of your website, product or service, those customers want to be able to locate what they need easily, and get what they need done as quickly as possible. That becomes harder for them to do if you’re overhauling your design every three months.
Consistency trumps consistent updates. By continually revamping your look, you’re ultimately forcing your customers to keep reacquainting themselves with your brand, and keep re-learning how to interact with it.
Now, this isn’t to say that redesign is automatically a bad thing. Small, data-driven tweaks and ongoing efforts to optimise are great, and can help you improve without alienating customers. Design changes made purely for the sake of having something new-looking, however, are seldom a good idea. Rather than redesigning, try subtle fine-tuning.
3. Minimalism means magnolia
Yes, white space in design is fantastic. And yes, minimalist design is slick and clear for the customer. But don’t be afraid to use colour.
Your design can still be minimalist without being magnolia. Used well, vibrant colour palettes can engage customers and create a confident image for your brand. You do need to use them wisely, but bold, bright colours can bring your website or app to life.
In the early 2000s, design was often a collection of chaotic effects and loud colours. The minimalist design movement edged away from that with more subdued colour pallets. Today, we’re seeing bold colours return whilst still incorporating minimalist design elements – with clean, clear interfaces that employ vivid colours in a simple way.
Drowning your design in clashing colours isn’t the answer. Nor is drab magnolia. The key is in finding that middle ground that makes your offering usable as well as visually enticing. Remember: colour doesn’t automatically mean you’re cluttering your design or distracting your customers, and bright doesn’t automatically mean busy.
As with most myths, there is some genuine founding behind these design “rules”. However, accepting them blindly, and incorporating them into your design, is damaging. Just as goldfish don’t really have a three second memory, your design won’t suffer from ignoring these myths.
The SmallBizRising Blog is designed to be an educational content hub pulling information, best practices and practical advice for the small business owner and features topics including accounting, marketing, technology and more. Be sure to subscribe to stay up to date with new content as it is posted.