Question: How can a design, signal the appropriate actions?
A design needs an objective, so you need to ask yourself: why is the user on your site, what do you want them to do, How can you try and construct these actions.
The answer, create an effective pathway, lead the user to the answer, create the trail of breadcrumbs.
A good path signals to the user that their is a focus to the site and it also destructs confusion. From the main landing page to sub pages, these should only have one primary objective. By forcing yourself to do this you create a good user experience and you are also connecting with the consumer, by showing them, you know what they want, without any ‘faff’. By creating the individual sections/categories the user can also feel more valued and listened to. Do not be fooled a user can sense the experience the designer is creating.
Creating this unique focus is simpler than you may feel, with an amazingly detailed yet simple menu, a user can navigate easily within the site and find their objective. The main page should then be focused around the whole site but in a simple, uncluttered manner.
Take the leading online retailers of our decade, Topshop, ASOS, Boohoo and River Island they embrace simplicity and sell it. Their home page’s encapsulates my theory. It entices the user and lets them know that they have reached the correct website. The websites are showing them about who they are, from 1 or 2 large photos and then the navigation does the rest. The user is getting exactly what they want, without unnecessary information and bombardment which leads to a confused and unfocused user. There subpages are all designed with one primary objection: show the user what they want. If the user wants jeans, it show them multitudes of jeans with a simplistic yet informative manner.
It is not a coincidence that these internet moguls, happen to have created similar websites, they have all been designed with the user in mind and have defined the experience they want to give them. We know, as consumers, we shop on the internet with an objective, we know what we want, and if at any point we get confused or our experience on a site is ruffled, we will have quickly lost trust in the retailer and exited the site.
We as designers and craftsman want to create objective experiences, we can all learn and create sites with a path, but we need to create for the real end user and realise what people of the new online customer experience actually need and want.
Approach your designs with the goal of creating a site that is: easy to navigate, simple to use, effortless to buy and seamless to stay with.