Design Fatigue: When bored doesn’t mean boring

Jakob’s Law states that visitors to your website spend most of their online time on other peoples websites. Who spends the most time on your website? – you do.

Whether you’re the developer, designer, or MD, no-one spends as much time on your site as you think they do (or wish they would). This leads to an interesting impediment called design fatigue. When you look at something for long enough it gets boring – no matter how much you loved it to begin with, it begins to look dull and stale. However, the important thing to note is that your visitors do not have this problem.

This lady is bored of design. So very bored.

This lady is bored of design. So very bored.

When looking at developing a new website, first ask yourself the question “Why do I want a new website?” If the answer is along the lines of “It’s been like this for a couple of years” you need to really think if you want to invest time, effort, and money* into rejigging the whole thing. Is an entire rebuild necessary? Could you get away with a quick reskinning of the design into something a little more contemporary? If you have serious concern over the validity of the content or the difficulty end users may have finding things on your website, then consider an in-depth overhaul of the whole structure.

* With the average salary of £25,000 for a web developer (UK), assuming a development time of roughly a month, your website will cost you upwards of £2000. That’s also assuming you have an in-house developer – outsourcing to a development house may well cost you much more!

I’m not one for talking myself out of work – I love coding websites and finding jazzy new techniques for improving the user experience; technology and languages are developing so quickly that websites can appear dated quite quickly, but I’d go for continual, small tweaks regularly rather than a large overhaul every couple of years every time.

tl;dr

Just because you’re bored of seeing the same layout day-after-day doesn’t mean your end user is and certainly doesn’t mean you should rebuild your website every few months. Spend a little time upfront to secure a timeless layout that can be iterated on rather than leaping from fad to fad and your website will stand the test of time.