People have many misunderstandings and false assumptions about websites. I've encountered several while talking to businesses about their websites. I've found UX Myths to be a helpful resource, since it responds to myths with research. The site's tagline is "Build your website based on evidence, not false beliefs." Here's a summary of my favorite myths and realities.
Reality: People skim when reading on the web. Make text scannable and relevant.
Reality: What really counts is making navigation easy, not the number of clicks.
Reality: People are used to scrolling. You don’t have to squeeze everything above the fold. However, you should encourage people to scroll with your design and interesting content. Content above the fold still gets the most attention, and helps people decide whether to keep reading.
Reality: Design is more about how something works than how it looks. The goal of design is to efficiently solve problems.
Reality: Users usually overlook stock images. Use images related to the topic, and that add information.
Reality: Design conventions and standard patterns are more usable, because people know how to use them.
Reality: Minor website improvements over time are better, because people prefer familiar designs and hate change.
Reality: Text labels are more efficient than icons alone, because the label removes the ambiguity an icon can have.
Reality: Navigation links work better than a website's search feature. People scan the page looking for what they want, and only search if they can't find it.
Reality: A website's design is based on its content. People come to websites for content, not design.
Reality: Aesthetics influence emotion. A pleasing design can make a website seem more credible, and make it easier to use.
Reality: All users are distracted, and sites must be designed to deal with that. Here are useful facts about mobile web use.
It can be difficult to separate web design fact from fiction, especially if you're not a web professional. Did any of these open your eyes? Contact us if you want to talk about applying these realities to your website.