You may not be aware of it, but your website is a contract.
It’s a contract between you and your audience, and its success hinges on your ability to establish expectations and then deliver on them.
Establishing expectations among your audience is known as channeling intent, and the goal of Web design is to channel your users’ intent effectively so they can get precisely what they want (without confusion!).
On the Web, users generally exhibit three different kinds of intent:
- Flirting — These users don’t know anything about you or your site.
- Information-gathering — These users are actively seeking specific information. One of your primary design goals should be to help these users find what they’re looking for in a clear, efficient manner.
- Action-taking — You’ve already channeled these users’ intent; now, your design must make it clear about which action to take. Furthermore, your design should also make it mindlessly easy to take action.
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