The Benefits of Redundancy in Web Design
The word ‘redundant’ has a largely negative connotation. A lot of people view redundancy as unnecessary, and in fact, Merriam Webster defines the word as “exceeding what is necessary or normal”, or “superfluous”.
In an era where conciseness is highly praised, it may seem paradoxical to say that redundancy can be a great thing, but it can. Allow me to illustrate.
Keeping a similar layout and design across a website allows users to navigate with ease. In the same sense, using a similar content template for articles, or other important content allows users to quickly recognize the type of content and its value.
www.cure.org stays consistent with similar designs and layouts.
Websites often use multiple mediums to display the same information, such as text, images, audio, and video. This is useful in a few ways. If the user does not have the ability to load videos, they can still read the text. This way, the information is still available, even though one element completely failed.
It is also scientifically supported that learning abilities improve when people are presented with multiple forms of the same information. This may sound obvious, but different people learn differently. If we communicate in multiple ways, it is more likely that the information will be received.
Redundancy is absolutely necessary in regards to accessibility. Alt text for images, titles, links, labels, and forms are redundant pieces of information, but provide context to a different set of users.
Redundant navigational systems increase the likelihood that users will find what they are searching for. We often design one navigational scheme for users and another scheme for search engines.
Since people think so differently from each other, it is important to give users several methods of finding the same information. This is accomplished through redundancy.
· We can organize information in multiple ways, such as by category, hierarchy, or tags.
· Breadcrumbs are entirely redundant, but they’re a great way to allow users to easily move to and from pages they’ve been on.
· Internal search systems are redundant too, but necessary for the cases when users want to find more obscure information.
While I advocate the use of “smart” redundancy, or redundancy that adds value to the experience of a website, it can easily be overdone. There are cases where repetition in content and functionality can bloat your system, and annoy your users. It is important to remember not to add anything that doesn’t also add value!
Erica Joy Decker
User Experience Designer