Media and its users expect instant results and the web is the place where this can happen. Branding is more than ever an immediate call to action and the context in which design decisions are made. Quantitative and qualitative tests reveal patterns of data that enable a measured approach to the art of web design and content marketing so where does this leave human innovation.
Ravin from GoCardless points out how innovation and testing work closely together. “The best ideas for design improvements inevitably come from a deep understanding of who your users are. Deep qualitative analysis, and customer segmentation comes first. Once that is understood, the central question should always be – how can we improve the experience for our users rather than, how do I grow this KPI by X%? Once a novel hypothesis as to how to improve the user experience is formulated, it’s critical to have a quick process to test that hypothesis”
In recent times results have highlighted that less can be more when it comes to design. The web can offer almost infinite choice like no other medim but this can also make it hard work for users. A/B test results are increasingly showing users responding favorably to clean, simple designs with less cluttered information. The reasons for the rise of minimalism are many, but I think at a practical level the idea of cognitive fluency is one that rings true. This is where the brain prefers to think about things that are easy. Which is why visiting sites that you instinctively know where everything is, and you know what actions you’re supposed to take, is often a preferable experience.
“Fluency guides our thinking in situations where we have no idea that it is at work, and it affects us in any situation where we weigh information.” – Uxmatters.co
The right balance of minimal design lends itself to fluency and has been brought to life by a new genre call Flat Design. If you have not heard of this phrase you will most likely recognise the styles. You don’t have to go far to find it.
If you find yourself using a website with an intuitive look and feel, the chances are that it’s a data-driven design by those who know when and how to innovate. It will have been tested and tested again. With wider skill sets and better software to collect and analyse data, design is putting the user firmly in the driving seat. For new up and coming front end developers like Matt Thomas, this is an entrenched part of his discipline. “Data helps us break those familiar boundaries and explore the limits of what’s possible. It allows us to challenge what’s comfortable and keeps us producing results in an industry that evolves every day”.
Numbers have given us the ability to create some of the most pleasing website experiences, influencing the colours and shapes of everything we see. However, the innovation to try something new still relies on human intuition. With all the data in the world, nothing quite beats the subjective mind of a well informed and talented designer, who is willing to change direction on the basis of data analysis.