Imagine visiting a website for a specific purpose…
You enter the URL and you’re met by a blank screen. Gradually, an item slides into view and dramatic music starts playing.
More items appear, including embedded video and you realise this is an animated intro to the site. Generally, the imagery is dark with a red theme – edgy and broody.
It smoothly scrolls through the information and ends up at a large, abnormally-sized button that flashes, suggesting you should click it.
You do so, and you are led to a social media-style interface with a scrolling feed of items in the middle and various other options in bars around the side. The whole site is very blue, with lots of images and animated gifs drawing your attention. There are lots of bright, colourful buttons everywhere.
After hunting through, you find a link that seems right in a drop-down menu that opens across the top when you hover.
From there, you are taken to a very plain, simple, Craigslist-style page with just a few hyperlinks. Otherwise, it’s white and without embellishment.
You look through and find the link you’re looking for and it opens onto a short video with most of the information that you need.
At the end, the video displays a link to more information that you click and it auto-downloads a PDF to your device. When you open it, you find that the PDF is a print-quality pamphlet with high-quality photos and green graphics around them.
At the end, it has a hyperlink that takes you to a Google Drive folder containing more information in various Word documents.
While I have taken this example ad nauseum, it doesn’t seem completely unfamiliar to me, and I doubt it does to you.
Sites often grow organically over time as part of a team effort. Some content creators love video, others prefer an old-fashioned document to convey info, while yet others are crack developers who like using the latest tools to make nifty, interactive sites on the cutting edge. As such, websites often contain combinations of these features, depending on who built what part and for whom.
It’s rarely as extreme as the above example, but it’s also not completely outside the realms of possibility. In theory, planning out the user journey and making it simple and economical should iron out these issues, but that’s only if everyone involved keeps to what I consider to be the most fundamental rule of UX design.