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Thursday, 08 April 2021 11:55

The Social Place: Pretty is nice, money is nicer

Written by  Polly Hammond
5forests Managing Director Polly Hammond 5forests Managing Director Polly Hammond

At 5forests, we spend a lot of time looking at websites - cheap, expensive, DIY, custom - from all around the world.

At the same time, we spend equally as many hours looking at global wine consumer data: who, where, when, how, why. What we find, smack dab in the middle, is that too often wine websites priorities pretty over usable.

That's an expensive mistake, so let's talk about the three most common design choices that wineries love but customers loathe.

1. Moving Parts

You know what I'm talking about: sliders and video background and animations and custom hover effects... This is the stuff that agencies convince you to do so that they can submit your design for an award, or that someone designed seven years ago when it was cool and now can't bring themselves to remove.

With rare exception do any of these actually help you market your product.

In fact, they often directly impede sales. They slow down site load time (site speed is one of the top factors in user happiness), they often work poorly on mobile devices, and they are distracting. Plus, they're expensive. Skip all the bling and spend that extra money on better copy.

2. Illegible Design Choices

I'm the first person to say, 'fonts are magical'. But they're worthless if they can't be read by your audience.

Our eyes are best at around the age of 30, so basically our entire target market is on the downhill slide for vision.

Here's my advice: increase your font size across all devices. If you have to zoom in, it's too small.

If it doesn't stand out against the background, check your contrast, check your font weight. You know that gold colour that everyone in wine likes to use? Rubbish for contrast. It needs to die a design death.

If you need a tool to help, Google "accessibility checker" and you'll find several that will check the contrast for you.

Next, use fonts the way they were meant to be used. Headline fonts really are only meant to be used for a few words and at large sizes; condensed (narrow) fonts are fine for navigation and headlines, not body copy; and script fonts have little or no place on websites.

3.Pattern Interruption

This is another one of those "design-y" things that we see too often in sites trying to be clever.

There are basic patterns of reading and comprehension, as well as website and e-commerce layout.

Similarly, information is hierarchical - visually, structurally, and even semantically. Common patterns support our ability to navigate and scan a page, understand what is important, and absorb the content we seek.

If you are trying to stand out by rearranging common site elements (buttons, cart, navigation, scroll direction, content flow) you will negatively impact usability and therefore you will reduce a site visitor's willingness to stick around, explore, and shop.

Anyone who has sat through a 5forests workshop will hear me say, "shop your site". So, today, grab your phone, open your website, and spend some time playing with it as if you were a new visitor. Is it easy to read, easy to use, easy to follow? Less is more, patterns work, and money is nicer than pretty.


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