A new research project shows why your web design is looking so bad.
The research, led by design firm New Scientist, reveals that design flaws, including poor typography, poor colour and uneven line spacing, can lead to a visual headache for users.
“There are some visual problems that we see with web design,” lead author and design graduate student Matthew Rees told New Scientist.
“For example, we see a lot of people with a lot different colour palettes that are not necessarily indicative of a user’s intended colour.”
It’s a good thing that web design looks so good, but sometimes it looks bad.
“We wanted to know how these design flaws affect people, and why they occur.”
The team used data from the Web Research API, which collects and analyzes online data, to investigate how people perceive web design.
It was not a hard problem to tackle: the data showed that users perceive the same visual issues to be a problem of design, with typography being the most common problem.
But the real challenge came when the researchers looked at the number of people who rated the site as having good design, or poor design, compared to people who felt that the site was poor.
“In this case, the design flaw was a typographic one,” Rees said.
“So we thought we might find a relationship between the number people rated the web design as good and how many people rated it as bad.”
The study found that when people rated web design poor, the number that said it was good fell by 25% and the number rated it poor by 50%.
“People were more likely to feel bad about their site if it was a bad design,” Reys said.
What’s more, people were more negative about web design when the site had a good design than when it had a bad one.
This is likely to be due to people perceiving web design to be more “good” than it really is.
“The fact that you’re getting more positive reviews is probably because people think that’s the case, but there’s no real proof that it’s the cases that people actually believe,” Reales said.
The findings, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, also revealed that people are less satisfied with web designs that were rated good, or bad, by a third of people.
“People are unhappy when they’re unhappy with a site, but it’s not because of design,” said Rees.
“It’s because of the content.”
In the future, Rees hopes to look at the factors that influence users’ opinions on a site and how that affects their ratings of that site.
“Ultimately, this research could help us build a better design for all of our web sites,” Reus said.