What do intelligence, intuition, and web design all have in common?

Forbes contributor, Bruce Kasanoff, recently wrote Intuition is the Highest Form of Intelligence, which asserts, well, that intuition is the highest form of intelligence.  When he really got my attention though, is when he talked about web design.

Kasanoff writes, “In some respects, intuition could be thought of as a clear understanding of collective intelligence. For example, most web sites are today organized in an intuitive way, which means they are easy for most people to understand and navigate. This approach evolved after many years of chaos online, as a common wisdom emerged over what information was superfluous and what was essential (i.e. About Us = essential).”

Whoa, mind officially blown. And Kasanoff is right when he describes early websites as chaos. For those of us who were around in the early 90s, we remember when color schemes made your eyes bleed, the height of graphic sophistication was clip art, and if you weren’t using at least 20 fonts on your website, you were doing it wrong. It took us years to realize, “Just because you can build it, doesn’t mean you should.” Think I’m exaggerating? Check out this little beauty.  OK, so this representation is a little over-the-top, but not much.

After the 90s we spent YEARS in self-indulgent design and messaging. We thought of websites as a mainly one-sided conversation, where we pushed every single message we wanted our customers to hear out through our website. Websites became these exhausting preambles that made the Declaration of Independence look like a Kindergarten essay. We explained our business history in excruciating detail, took up way too much real estate explaining what our competitors did wrong, and listed verbose explanations of our services.

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Then tablets, smartphones, and Google showed up and were like, “Um. Wait just a minute. You need to get over yourselves and make your website about the end-user.” It’s taken us several MORE years to get the memo on this new way of designing websites and delivering our online messaging.

Now that every human on the plant has a smartphone (except my mom, who still has a flip-phone), we have had no choice but to make web design more intuitive, as Kasanoff pointed out in his article. Handheld devices have forced us to re-examine how people search and find us online, and what message they are looking for in three seconds or less.

Web design needs to be intuitive, clever and accommodating to deliver a successful user experience. If your potential customer can’t find you at all online, or if they can find you and you don’t deliver what they want when they want it, they will bounce to your competitor faster than you can say “lousy user experience.”

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Maybe Kasanoff’s theory that intuition is the highest form of intelligence is debatable (although my gut says he’s right), but his commentary on intuitive web design is spot on. Modern-day web design is about so much more than a pretty website with a bunch of bells and whistles on it. It’s about climbing inside the head of your buyer, figuring out what they need from you and when they need it, and then delivering that intuitively through web design.