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Details can take your website over the top

- Alex Karei, marketing director for Webspec Design, blogs about web strategy.

When people hear I work in web, I often hear one question: “What makes a great website?”

There's not really one answer to that. The design, user experience, overall content and even the way the code is written can all contribute to a website that stands out from the rest. But when you drill down to it, the one thing that typically takes a website over the top - the thing that you can really pinpoint, in my opinion - is the level of detail in the final website development. This isn’t a feature that you can download a plugin and see, or an image you can purchase through a stock photo site. Detail is a result of analyzing each piece of a website and asking one question.

“How can this be better?”

Detail can come in different forms through a website, and serve different purposes. Some are self-serving for the site builder (to increase sales, for instance) and some are for the user (to make the visitor experience more enjoyable). Neither are inherently bad, and depending on your site, different types of detail can be appropriate.

Adding humor to website content

For some websites, detail comes in the form of humor. For instance, Mailchimp, a popular email marketing platform, is good at pinpointing areas where a normal task can be made more fun. For instance: if I try to make a new account with a username that’s already taken, Mailchimp suggests my evil twin has already beat me to the punch. This small detail is turning a potentially frustrating situation (picking a different username) into something that will make me chuckle.

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React to visitor actions

Other website details react to the user’s actions. Google is known for showing images or special designs for different searches on its site, and those details are fairly well-documented if you search for them. But, one of my favorite examples is the popular social media website, Tumblr, and its concern for one of its target audiences. They serve, in general, a young demographic, and have chosen to react to those in that group who may search for  “thinspo” (an alarming term, short for “thin inspiration”, that young women with anorexia or bulimia may use to search for photos of bone-thin women to remind themselves of their goals to become thin). When the term is searched in Tumblr's bank of posts, a message pops up, asking the user if they need help.

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Websites like Tumblr don’t have to pay attention to the user behavior to this level of detail to run a functioning website, but the details show they care - and make users remember them.

Increase overall usability

The last example I’ll share is one that adds to basic usability. Amazon.com has many examples of detail on their website, but a small piece of what they offer is the use of a number in the shopping cart icon that appears on every page, indicating how many items you’ve added thus far. This is especially helpful for those who may do a little window shopping from time to time. Forgot it in your cart? Amazon has your back.

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Adding detail to your website

These are all creative uses of details on websites, but don’t let that discourage you. Even a small business owner can add unique details to their website. All it takes is a little extra care! Think about things like:

  • What is the “submit” button on my contact form? Could it show more of my brand personality - even with just the language?
  • Is there any way I can geographically cater website content to my users? (This may require the consultation of a developer, but it can be a really nice addition to a website!)
  • Am I doing everything I can to aid my user on their purchasing journey? Could any steps be more intuitive?

Remember, keep your users at the forefront, and don’t brush by the small decisions when it comes to pieces of your website. If you already have, it’s not too late to go back and make a few tweaks.

What are some of your favorite website details?

Email: alex@webspecdesign.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/alextriesitout
Instagram: www.instagram.com/alextriesitout
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexandriakarei

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