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Wayfinding – Helping users finding the right path on the Web
As the formal practice of digital-design establishes itself in the Twenty First Century, the industry’s early predilection with flashy visual design and graphic embellishment has given way to an increased emphasis on interface and usability.”
The concept of ‘wayfinding’ for digital usability is key to a successful banner campaign, interactive TV DAL, promotional microsite or a full on 10-levels deep website. The concept of ‘wayfinding’ is about navigating complex and sometimes unfamiliar space. Just because a site or banner has ample navigational links doesn’t mean that people will see them, understand them, or ultimately use them.
Meaningful labelling and nomenclature is therefore all important with navigational links on your ten-level deep website - but in the case of promotional online campaigns the visual trigger needs to provoke the user into committing to that click. This can be achieved by intrigue, humour, or direct information that is of relevance to the desired audience. Planning plays its part in this by identifying what really is meaningful information for your desired target audience (or user groups).
Wayfinding is obviously not just signage then - you’ve got to make users want to go to particular place. Ultimately the role of ‘wayfinding’ in digital design is about improving the browsing experience and thus provide the desired reward at the end of the user journey; whether that be just information, a successful entry into a competition or a playing an immersive game online.
For further reading about ‘Wayfinding’, please see John Muhlhausen’s ‘Wayfinding in Not Signage’.
Some basic tips:
• Clear, meaningful language
• Making use of learnt behaviours and accepted web visual metaphors (buttons, input fields, arrows etc)
• A reason to commit to the click – the “What’s in it for Me?” factor. Users must have an identifiable reward – intrigue, comedy, actual reward whether financial or otherwise
• Text is easy to read – contrasting colours, size is big enough
• Eye-catching – create something visually arresting
For an in-depth look into usability Steve Krug’s ‘Don’t make Me Think - A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, offers some excellent reading.
For other information relating to digital marketing please visit www.glasspartnership.co.uk, a well established digital marketing agency in London, that specialises in interactive marketing.
About the Author: Freelance writer for Travel, Business, IT, Retails and much more.