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People have a limited capacity to process information, learn procedures, and remember details. And in the real world, they’re under far more pressure from interruptions and deadlines than in a user-testing lab, which limits their capacity even more.

Small details in an interface can add to the load on the user and slow them down like speed bumps and potholes on a road.

When The Co-operative Bank asked my business partner, Richard Caddick, to increase the number of people clicking through their home page, he set out to reduce the load on people visiting the page.

  • He removed text that was not being looked at, such as the tagline underneath the bank’s name.
  • He simplified the layout, removing a vertical column on the right side of the page so it was easier to see which items were important and which were low-priority.
  • He eliminated duplicate links, such as the “Tell me about...” drop-down menu, cutting the number of clickable items by about 20 percent.
  • He limited the number of styles used for buttons and links to make it easier to distinguish what was clickable and what was not.
  • He reduced the number of promotional slots so there were fewer distractions for customers who knew where they were going.
  • He cut down the visual clutter by removing distracting elements such as lines that were used to divide content and a horizontal yellow bar across the page.

This small project took just a few weeks to complete, but it resulted in a significant boost to the number of visitors clicking through the home page and going on to complete application forms.

Removing options, content, and distractions lightens the load on users so they can focus on getting the job done. Removing visual distractions helps them process what they’re seeing faster and more reliably. It’s the details that make all the difference.

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