Cutting through noise: designing content to elicit users’ actions
Content relevance is one of UX experts’ main concerns: good content design must ensure users are provided all the information they need, without all the distractions which may come from unnecessary elements, such as decorative images, long, undifferentiated and dull texts, animations.
To maximize efficiency and conversions on a web page, our design should chase a high signal-to-noise ratio(*1): the quantity of relevant content should be way above the quantity of “frills” or decorative elements which bear no information at all.
However, as creatives we are also driven by the need to engage emotionally with viewers on a digital interface. Good copywriting and powerful art direction are usually deployed to serve this goal. Plus, who can tell what content is absolutely unnecessary on a webpage? Different users can differently see and evaluate the same components, finding each of them more or less valuable according to their intent.
Using UI elements to engage your audience emotionally
Generally speaking we shouldn’t forget that UI elements may serve different functions, other than information, promotion or task efficiency. Many of them may be used for branding purposes: stressing some values, evoking a tone of voice, putting forward some subtle message.
Minimalism in web design means taking the goal of a high signal–to–noise ratio to the extreme, by removing all unnecessary elements on a page.
Is this what we want to achieve?
Four tips of good content design on web pages
Achieving balance between these two goals - aiming at efficiency vs leveraging on aesthetics and emotions- is not simple. Yet there are some tips to organise content on a webpage efficiently for this purpose. Our new website has represented the ideal testbed for this purpose.
As a general advice, plan your content carefully, design with visual hierarchy in mind and try to achieve a good high signal- to - noise ratio by reducing unnecessary content and interaction if they are overwhelming the real information on the page. Think of UX design as a gift box: the decorative colourful wrap is useful, because makes our expectations even more joyful. But in the end, what matters is what we find inside.
Steve Krug, Don’t make me think
Xinyi Chen, Signal–to–Noise Ratio
Katie Sherwin, Decorative Images: Delightful or Dreadful?