To properly use web design principles, we have to understand how users think, how they go through websites, and what the basic patterns of their behavior are.
How Users Think
In essence, online consumers behave in the same way as customers that shop at stores. At first, these visitors look at every new page, check a portion of the content in it then click on the link that grabs their attention or somehow resembles what they are searching for. They disregard most parts of the page.
The majority of users search for topics that look interesting, useful and are clickable. The moment they find potential candidates, they click. Whenever the new content does not meet their needs, they click on the back button then continue with the search process.
Users go for quality and credibility.
Since users go for high-quality content, they don’t really mind the website design or the ads that go with it. That is why websites which are not so well-designed but have great, relevant content, get more traffic than well-designed websites with poor content. This shows the importance of content over web design.
Most users only scan pages.
When you examine a web-page, you will notice that users look for key points that would direct them throughout the content.
Online users are impatient and demanding.
A website should be able to meet the expectations of users. If not, the web designer did not succeed in doing his job. If the site has high cognitive load and is not user-friendly, then it is hard to navigate and users will most likely leave the site and go on to the next.
Users do not make the best choices.
Users take time in finding the information they need because they do not do things systematically. Whenever they scan a web page, they jump from one section to another. They choose the first available alternative. Every time they see a link that may lead to their goal, they will immediately click on it. They do not want to wait a long time.
Users use their intuition.
Most often than not, users browse rather than read information. The main reason for that is the fact that users simply do not care. Once they find something that is effective, they go for it. It does not matter if they understand how it works as long as it can be used. So, if your audience acts like you are designing billboards, make the most of it and design exceptional billboards.
Users want to be in control.
Users want to be in control of their browser and make constant use of the data presentation across the site. This means they get annoyed with the new pop ups that appear unexpectedly. They also want to be able to use the back button when they want to go back to the former site they have been viewing. So, it might be good not to open any new links in new browser windows.