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Web Design Tidbits From NN/g

The Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g), says it is involved with evidence-based user experience research, training and consulting. I believe it, because they produce some of the best content on the web and are one of my favorite emails that fill my inbox. These are the people who tell you how long it will take to read a piece of content before you click on it. Smart.Web Design layout sketch drawing Software Media WWW and Graphic Layout Website development project

Here are a few of their insights I’ve read over the last couple of months that are worthy of sharing:

  • The Most Important Information Goes on the Left Side of Your Website. In spite of all the talk of web redesign, web users spend 80% of their time viewing the left half of the page and 20% viewing the right. Put your most important web information on the left-hand side of the page.
  • Avoid the “False-Consensus Effect.” The false-consensus effect states we tend to overestimate how many people share our choices, values and judgments, especially with user experience. It is the “Curse of Knowledge,” which means it is problematic for informed people to think about issues from the perspective of the uninformed. The answer to this conundrum is to test, survey, and conduct eye-tracking research and study user data.
  • We Like Things Lined Up on Our Websites. As designers, you may get bored with a design and want to mix it up, but research shows, as web users who scan, we like our images lined up. Users scanning text and images were more efficient and didn’t stumble as much when the images and text were vertically aligned. Zigzag layouts make the page layout less predictable and difficult to scan around images. The first image on the left also dictated if users were going to pay attention to any of the images after that. Complex imagery was a negative throughout NN/g testing.

NN/g’s user research is eye-opening and immediately actionable. Here is a link so you can sign up for emails from NN/g.

Written by:

Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.