As designers we are used to the quality of our work lying in the complexity of a page, designed to be easily digested by a user, created to be a standout work on the web.
But what about the designs that don’t need to be stylized? How do we approach a task-oriented website where the idea is to “un-design?” How much design is too much design?
Below, is a list of 5 considerations when un-designing a successful task-oriented site.
Design shouldn’t get in the way.
Some of the more popular task-oriented sites include social media platforms. In this domain, content and interactions are the hero; design is simply there to support user interactions.
Take Facebook for example. Running some of the highest repeat traffic on the web on a daily basis, Facebook has little to no traditional design. There are four consistent modules: top navigation, left navigation, a mini feed and advertisements. Throughout Facebook’s evolution, this user-friendly and magical ratio has never changed.
A task-driven website is likely visited on a regular basis. The most successful user experiences are unchanging and not daunting.
Simplify the elements.
Form fields, checkboxes, drop downs, tables—they are the foundation of our task-oriented world. Their purpose is to spur action, relay information, and ultimately achieve a successful conversion. Removing distraction from these elements helps in completing their intended task.
So our advice is to remove drop and inner shadows, reduce input fields to a single line and scroll through a lengthy table horizontally. Reducing excessive elements and space helps to reveal the intended action to the user. Mono Design Company has named “The 10 Commandments of Good Form Design on the Web” illustrating these examples and more that every devoted designer should follow.
Find meaning in your colors.
It might go against your instinct as a designer, but leave the colors alone. Opting for a monochromatic scheme leaves the rest of the color wheel for the important stuff. Colors tends to have a universal meaning, there is no barrier to this knowledge. Green is good, red is alert, gray is inactive and blue is neutral. Using colors appropriately reduces the need for words while still communicating with the user.
Color perception applies to industries in the sense that the emotion associated with a particular color will have a direct correlation to the brand in that industry. Brands in healthcare, insurance and technology can often be found to utilize blue—trust, dependability and calmness. Whereas brands using orange, for example, such as beverage companies and television networks, will be associated with cheerfulness and whimsicality.
Filling out forms—especially ones that are financial or legal in nature—can be a large time commitment to a user. Breaking these forms up can help users pace their application without becoming overwhelmed. We are fans of the progress bar, and when a form can be separated into distinguishable phases.
If that’s not possible, we like to employ the “choose your own adventure” method. Filling in a form field then prompts the appearance of the next, based upon information provided in the previous.
Regardless of your form type, giving the user the option to save partial progress and revisit the form later is key to completion.
Go back to the basics.
When you’re stumped, don’t be afraid to draw on the basics you learned in design school. There’s a reason they’re basics—they never go out of style.
Balance: Design of a task-oriented site should strive to find its center of balance between all objects.
Repetition: Repetition creates rhythm. It also creates familiarity with the user, and the more familiar a user becomes with a task, the easier the task becomes.
Emphasis: This is especially important for robust sites. Designing a clear area of emphasis doesn’t leave the user guessing where their focus should be.
Contrast: The easier a user can read the words and see the icon, the quicker they can complete tasks. Use contrast to help guide intended interactions.
Hannah Carroll is a Senior Web Designer at Blue Fountain Media in New York City. She graduated from the University of South Carolina, began her career in the Palmetto State and migrated to Brooklyn in 2013. She has been crafting web experiences for clients worldwide for over 7 years. She also enjoys photography, running with her dog, and biking to local breweries. http://www.hannahcarroll.co; https://www.behance.net/carrollhk