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The web demands user interaction

The experience of a website is defined by the interaction the user has with it. For example, a user clicks on navigation or scrolls down to read a page. Even the act of reading a book can be defied as user interaction. In the Western world, people read from left to right down a page, they turn pages, and scan page numbers and tables of contents in order to find a certain chapter or topic.

Coming back to the web, you don’t just have readers — you have users. Think of the verbs that describe what you do online: you search websites, watch the weather report, transfer money between accounts, book airline fights, and do many other things. The designer needs to think in these terms when designing pages, anticipating the user’s motivation for coming to the site.

When it comes to user interaction, offering too many options can be just as bad as not offering enough. If there are multiple pathways available to the user, it is the designer’s responsibility to make sure the user doesn’t get lost. The entire sum of a user’s interactions with a website can be called the user experience. The focus on the user experience differentiates websites from printed products more than anything else.

This job is so important that there are web professionals called information architects. Information architecture is defined as the structure of a website and its pages: how the site and the site navigation are organized.

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In its strictest form, information architecture is not concerned with issues such as color, type, and graphics. In larger design agencies, it is not uncommon to have an information architect collaborating with the designers, especially at the beginning stages of designing a website.

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