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Manipulating Size and Space: Using Fitts’ Law to Improve Usability in Web Development

web development tips

You might’ve noticed for a while now that only the space bar is given prime real estate space in your computer’s keyboard, right down in the bottom middle are; it has also been made bigger than any other keys. This isn’t without reason as the space bar is typically one of the most frequently used keys in a keyboard in any given setting and all ten of your fingers need to be able to reach the space bar quickly and easily. This design makes typing easier and more comfortable for all of us and the reason why even in vintage typewriters that doesn’t have a space bar, the space keys are usually hard to miss.

This manipulation of size and space is based off of a predictive model of human movement in the field of human movement and ergonomics referred to as Fitts’ Law. In the field of man-machine interface, of which web development and UX design is a part of, Fitts’ Law is used to give more prominent to functions that are more important or more often used than others. As is the case with the humble keyboard, Fitts’ Law can be used to improve the usability factor of your website, making it a much more hospitable place for users, which is the ultimate goal in UX design.

Fitts’ Law in a nutshell

The gist of Fitts’ Law is actually pretty simple. The law predicts that the time required to move to a target area is a function of the ratio between the distance to the target and the width of the target. The space bar is an example of Fitts’ Law being utilized to the maximum and if you take the time to observe the world around you, you’re going to find more example of Fitts’ Law being used. In cars for example, the brake pedal is always bigger and easier to reach than the accelerator so that under emergency situations, you could easily stop your car from whatever it is you’re about to run into.

Car pedals don’t take into account the possibility that you might actually have to outrun something but that possibility is far more remote than having to stomp on the brakes. In a man to machine interface, this is referred to as a hierarchy, where the amount of visual weight is given based on the function’s importance or likelihood to be used. We’re far likelier to run into something than having to outrun something and this simple reason is why the brake pedal takes priority over the accelerator.

In the field of web development, Fitts’ Law main priority is to improve usability but the law is often used for the purpose of marketing as well. By subtly altering how elements are presented in a webpage, it is possible to subtly nudge users into performing certain preferred actions with the keyword here being subtlety as blatant sales tactics can and do impede usability. Fitts’ Law manifests itself in several different ways in web development and you want to pay extra attention to the following methods.

Buttons should always be easily clickable

The easiest way of making buttons clickable is by increasing their size but buttons could only get so big before their size becomes an usability issue. You want them to be easily clickable yes but there are other ways you can do that other than having to rely on size. To begin with, you can establish clear boundary with the space around them by making use of contrast. Black buttons over a white background for example would be hard to miss and you can also make it so that the CTA buttons aren’t immediately surrounded by other distracting elements, which leads to my next point.

The issue of space and distance

Another way of making buttons more prominent is by making sure that they’re not surrounded by other elements. Google’s homepage for example is still solely dedicated for search with other Google services hidden in the menus. By isolating your most important CTA button in a section of the page where they can easily be seen, you can subtly direct user’s attention to that button. This is a good thing for usability as well as you don’t want buttons on your website to be too closely grouped with each other as you don’t want any misclick to happen, especially for buttons with opposite functions.

On the other hand, for buttons and functions that are related to each other, you want to group them close to each other. The username and password field is always located next to the login button as they’re directly connected to each other. For related buttons, you want to make sure that they’re clearly distinguished from each other by using proper borders. This is especially important with mobile interface as space is even more of a commodity in that field.

Give ample clicking space

If your website make use of forms in some way, and it probably does, then you’re probably going to make use of radio buttons at some point. Now, radio buttons tend to be annoying because they have a very small amount of clickable space and it’s not rare for me to feel like I’ve clicked on that button only to find out I’ve missed it by several pixels. To alleviate this, you might want to consider making the label clickable as well, but ensure that this information is presented to users so that they don’t waste time aiming for those teeny-tiny radio buttons even when there’s ample clickable space sitting next to the radio buttons.

How to Boost Your Sales Through These Colour Psychology Tips

web design tips

I have to admit, as a person, I’m not into colourful things. I always love black and black is the only colour I love. However, in the business world, it doesn’t work like that. Colour is the face of a business that represents its “personality” and “uniqueness”. If you are a business owner, I’m sure you know the meaning of colour for your business, especially when it comes to web design or logo design. Colour is the characteristic of your business that can differentiate you from other companies in the same industry. The set of colours used in business may be the same and identical; however, there is the psychology behind the meaning of colours and depending on what you choose; it can determine your business success. For that reason, if you are just starting out a business and building your website, you should make use of this colour psychology that can help you attract more customers and increase sales. How? Keep reading this article to find out!

What is colour psychology?

Before we dive deep into more information about colour psychology, let’s start with the definition first. Colour psychology is the science of how colour affects human behaviour. Although this lacks scientific evidence to back up the theory that colours affect human behaviour, there are key facts of colour theory that cannot be denied. In a peer reviewed journal article, Satyendra Singh determined that it takes a mere 90 seconds for a customer to form an opinion about a product and 62-90% of that interaction is determined by the colour of the product alone.

Where should you use colour?

Colours are omnipresent. They are used everywhere. For that reason, you need to understand where you should use the colours for your business and since we are talking about colour use in web design; you should use the colour scheme of your website that includes the tint of headline type, backgrounds, popups, borders, hero graphics and buttons.

Use the right colour in the proper way

Colour is tricky sometimes. Each colour has different meanings and effects. That’s why you should use it properly, at the right time for the right purpose and the right audience. For example, your business is selling toys for kids, your ideal colour scheme would be bright yellow, bright green, bright blue and a little bit of a red for some important part like contact details to make sure the buyers find them easily. If you are selling beauty products focused for women (yes, skincare stuff can also work for men, but that’s not the point in this example), then the colour scheme that works well for your products is a set of purple, soft pink, light purple and a little bit of white for the text can work too. However, keep in mind that it also depends on your products. If your beauty products are from the same brand with the same colour and let’s say the product packaging’s main colour is blue, then you can’t use colours like pink or purple. Use blue and expand its colour scheme with blue as the main focus colour so you can adjust your product well to the design. If blue is the main colour, you can use a set of dark blue, light blue and white. Doing this will help you maintain consistency for your brand and help your audience recognise you.

Colour and its effects

Now we get to the part where colour has its meaning and effects on other people. Colours have direct or indirect impacts on each person who sees that. These are the meanings of colours in general:

  • Black means mystery, elegance, death, evil, power, mourning
  • Blue means sadness, calm, loyalty
  • Green means abundance, nature, freshness
  • Yellow means happiness, concentration, hope
  • Red means passion, anger, danger, love
  • White means purity, cleanness, innocence
  • Purple means royalty, luxury, wealth, sophistication
  • Cream means elegance, purity
  • Grey means conservative, formality

Ever came into a room and immediately felt relaxed? Maybe a place like Spa can remind you of the feeling of relaxation and freshness. Perhaps the place is coloured in green, blue and a little bit of white? Yes, colour has THAT kind of effect on people. For that reason, business owners make use of colour psychology to determine which colour is suitable for their business and values. Remember, colour matters because your business matters; therefore, choose wisely.

Digital Hospitality: 4 Ways Web Hosting Affects the Quality of Your Website

web development tips

Prime real estate space is highly valuable. This is why a plot of land of certain size in a certain area could be worth 10 times as much as another plot of land with a same size but in a less popular area. For new families embarking on a new beginning, a plot of land in a good neighborhood surrounded by good schools and good hospitals would be considerably more attractive than a plot of land in a lousy, remote neighborhood, making the former considerably more expensive. For businesses, the amount of traffic around and proximity to public attractions could weigh in your favor.

What happens though when this issue of space shifted into the digital world as online businesses are now the norm instead of the exception? You might think that the issue of where the website is located doesn’t really matter but it actually, just in a wholly different way. In the world of web development, businesses are so hung up on designing the perfect website that the discussion of where that website should be hosted isn’t a priority but I’m here to outline some arguments on why that needs to change.

Great hosts aren’t just for Airbnb

In this year alone, the Facebook family of apps, including Facebook-owned Instagram and WhatsApp, suffers from several different outages, cutting off access to their billions of users. If you’re not among those billions of people, all the power to you but for those that rely on those services on a daily basis, these outages are highly infuriating because they were entirely unexpected. If there was maintenance and people were alerted ahead of time, they might’ve been more receptive.

I’m absolutely certain that Facebook as a company opts to use the best hosting option available for their servers but in the world of web development, even the best is far from perfect. Of course, with the number of users in the billions and where security threats are a constant, Facebook is a very extreme example but it does highlight the importance of web hosting when it comes to online businesses. The quality of your website isn’t just decided by the website itself; your choice of web hosting will also have a measurable impact on the quality of your website.

Website load speed

Let’s say you’re about load a shipment of boxes from a warehouse to a truck. Obviously, the amount of time and work you’re going to have to make depend on the amount of boxes you have to move but it would also depend on how the boxes are going to be moved. Using a conveyor belt would be faster and requires less effort than if you’re going to have to carry the boxes one-by-one through a series of hurdles. In this analogy, the amount of boxes is the size and complexity of your website while how the boxes are moved is the access provided by your web host provider.

The amount of access and resource available to your website is dictated by your hosting plan. A cheap, shared hosting plan means that multiple websites are hosted in a single server and the amount of resource and computing power of that server has to be shared between those websites which means slower loading times. A dedicated server, physical or virtual, doesn’t suffer from this limitation but they’re also considerably more expensive, especially physical dedicated server. Keep in mind that for a simple portfolio website, a shared hosting option might be enough so try to balance these options with what you actually need.

Website uptime

No hosting option will be able to guarantee you 100% uptime, that’s just simply a statistical impossibility, but the good ones should at least be capable of guaranteeing 99% uptime. The numbers however, are just one piece of the puzzle, you also have to ensure that the web hosting provider you choose keep the unexpected downtime to a minimum and that you’re always given a heads up when a scheduled downtime is about to happen. You know how the saying goes, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.

Website security

There are two ways a website can be hacked, by invading the administrator section of a website and by invading the actual server where that website is hosted. The former is your responsibility but the latter is in the hands of whoever owns that server. There’s a type of service referred to as colocation hosting in which a business merely rents the server space where the server is located and the business is responsible for the managing of the server itself but typically, this is left to the hosting provider, which is why it’s imperative for you as a business to go with a provider that takes the issue of cybersecurity as serious as it should be.

Website scalability

For the forward thinking business owners, it’s typical for you to look at where you’d like your business to be 5, 10 years down the line. In the physical space, this means having a good foundation for your property so that when it comes a time for you to expand your wings, you could just simply expand the space you currently have now instead of having to hunt for a bigger location. This scalability issue is also present in the world of web development as as your business grows, you also have to contend with a bigger, more sophisticated website and more traffic.

If you think that going with a dedicated hosting option is a bit of overkill at this stage of your business, that’s completely in your discretion but you’d want to make sure that your hosting provider provides you with a seamless and easy way for you to upgrade and scale your website when the time comes. If you think that scaling in web development is easier than in the physical space, you’re right but it’s still quite a complicated process and you’d want to attach yourself to a hosting provider that knows what they’re doing.