The online super giants, leaders of their own respective industries weren't always on top. Before Google, there was Yahoo. Back in 2006, before Facebook conquered the online world with its current 750 million users, Myspace was the social network leader. So, why the sudden transfer of power? How did Google overtake Yahoo and Facebook persevere over MySpace?
Answer: UX Design. Here we take a closer look at the design history of these social network powerhouses and their effect on web user engagement.
Google understands what its users want: a place to search, that's it. They have, therefore, structured their design accordingly. Google personalizes their site by:
- Clean, structured, and simple layout.
- Fun colorful logo. This not only makes Google's page stand out, but also makes it a brand to remember. Highlighting and emphasizing the most important aspects of your site can work in your favor.
- Search box location smack in the middle of the page. It may not have much but it's aesthetically pleasing to look at and is the focal point of page, where the mouse cursor is automatically set to start typing.
Have a look at some of Google Webmaster, Dennis Hwang's popular doodles that have given the search giant its fun and creative reputation.
In comparison to Google, Yahoo has chosen to incorporate multiple web elements onto their page that take visitors' attention away from search.
And Facebook? Their site may seem complex now, but when they started, their sign up homepage was clear, concise and straightforward. Here's how:
- Careful color choices. Blue is a favorite for most people 18 and over. It symbolizes dependability, trust and communicationâ€¦smart move by Facebook :-)
- Easy-to-find sign up form.
- Distinctive call to action button. Facebook's Sign Up stands out on the page in terms of color and location versus MySpace's page where you don't know where to even begin to look to do something as important as signing up.
Here is a great link to view the design evolution of Facebook.
Although Myspace offers their clients multiple ways to get involved with social activities online, they have cluttered their homepage with an overwhelming amount of call to action items. This fails to address specific visitor goals that Facebook has succeeded in doing.
Survival of the Fittest
Users want to feel like they know their way around a site even if it's their first time visiting it. The World Wide Web is a confusing place, so why make things harder? Visiting a website should be like shopping; you browse for what you need, find it, buy it and goodbye! Websites filled with distractions and clutter will result in abandoned shopping carts, lost visitors along your navigation path, and a decrease in conversions.
Survival of the fittest means having the leanest, cleanest and simplest sites while those that are heavy with suffocating content will become extinct.
Want to learn more about how to design with simplicity in mind? Be sure to stay tuned in for part two of this post, where we'll go further in depth into how to design a usability friendly site with visitor goals in mind.