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Digital wellness for web designers – a discussion

Digital wellness for web designers – a discussion

Posted 08th September, 2021 by Sarah

Research suggests that the average adult in the UK will spend the equivalent of 34 years of their lives staring at a screen.

While it may sound shocking, it’s not all together a bad thing.

Screens enable worthwhile work to be done, they allow people to socialise when real world interactions are not possible, and they can give people access to technology that can monitor and promote both physical and mental health.

However, there’s no denying there’s a dark side to screen time, too.

Too much screen time has been linked to:

• Poor sleep

• Headaches

• Addictive behaviours

• Anxiety

• Depression

As more and more research has been conducted into the above impacts, the concept of digital wellness has become an increasingly hot topic.

In this blog, we’ll look at digital wellness from the perspective of web designers.

We’ll look at two elements:

• How web designers can build digital wellness into the sites and apps they design for clients

• How web designers can build digital wellness into their own lives

So let’s get started…

What is digital wellness?

In a nutshell, a digitally well person has a balanced and healthy relationship with technology.

That’s to say that technology:

• Does not waste their time

• Does not inordinately distract them from the things they would rather be doing or had planned to do

• Does not make them feel stressed

• Does not make them feel overwhelmed

• Does not make them feel coerced

• Does not make them feel manipulated

• Does not hinder their goals – a report by Google found that people can feel tired, annoyed and even ashamed when they believe technology has hindered their goals

How can web designers build sites and apps that take digital wellness into consideration?

At first glance, it might seem that digital wellness is the antithesis of many web design practices.

After all, digital wellness is all about avoiding excessive engagement with technology while websites and apps are designed to keep people clicking, scrolling, liking and buying.

Despite this apparent contradiction, there are a few ways web designers can make their sites more conducive to digital wellness.

Here are a few tips:

Minimise distractions

There are several aspects of websites that can distract visitors from their original purpose on a webpage.

These include:

• Auto playing videos

• Live chat pop ups

• Banner adds

• Scroll triggered animations

Be mindful when you add these to a site and take the time evaluate the worthiness of them after you have added them. For example, analyse how much interaction your live chat pop up gets – if it’s minimal, you could consider deleting it from your site.

Respect visitors’ time

Some web designers will do this without knowing it. However, there are a few quick tricks for ensuring the sites you build don’t waste the time of visitors.

These include:

• Ensuring your load time is as quick as it can be

• Using best UX practices to ensure visitors can navigate easily through your site

• Ensuring the sites you design contain vital sections like FAQs and contact pages

Try not to overwhelm with your colour scheme

Of course, you’ll want to make the sites you design memorable.

However, there can often be a fine line between striking and stressful.

Before you decide on a colour scheme, ask yourself if it’s aposematic – aposematic colours are those that are used in nature to convey warnings. They naturally induce a stress response in onlookers.

These are just a few aposematic colour combinations:

• Black and yellow – like a wasp

• Red and black – think red bellied black snake or milk snake

• Black and white – like a skunk

Take a stand against dark patterns

Dark patterns are web design practices that are designed to subtly manipulate visitors into making decisions that favour the website’s owners.

They lure visitors into buying items and signing up for things, for example.

You can read more about dark patterns in our blog 5 examples of dark patterns in web design.

Hand over sound control

From music scores and ambient sound to button effects and voiceovers, sound can take a website to new heights.

However, it can also startle visitors or be viewed as an intrusion.

There’s an easy way to overcome this, and that’s to allow visitors to take control of the sound on a site.

You can either allow visitors to agree to receive the sound on a website before it’s played or make it easy for them to disable sound if they don’t want it.

How can web designers build digital wellness into their own lives?

There’s no getting away from a screen when you’re a web designer.

However, there are still digital wellness practices that you can put in place.

Here are a few:

Try a paper phone one day a week

The screen you work on may be unavoidable, but second screens aren’t.

Paper Phone is an Android app that lets you replace your phone for a day.

It lets you select the things on your phone that you might need for the day ahead – for example, a few select phone contacts, a map, a list of appointments, even a recipe or Sudoku puzzle and it lets you print them out into a ‘paper phone’.

Try microbreaking

If you don’t feel like you have time for an hour’s lunch break, try microbreaking.

This means allowing yourself half a minute of pause for every 40 minutes you work.

Use this time to look out of a window at the clouds, close your eyes and breathe, doodle even.

Research has found that microbreakers have slower heart rates than those that don’t take breaks, suggesting that the technique does work in calming people down.

Commit to digital wellness as a group

If you’re guilty of regularly skipping your lunch break or working an extra hour in the evenings, you could try making yourself more accountable for your digital wellness journey by committing to it as a group.

Whether you form a group with other web designers or friends in other industries, you can download the WeFlip app to your desktop.

To use the app, you wait for everyone to join a session, then use the app to lock your devices. If one person in the group unlocks their device the session ends.

Interested in reading more about topics like digital wellness?

You can find more discussions, facts and stat-filled articles on the tsoHost blog.

Categories: Web Design

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