Design & the Pursuit of Happiness

I am one of your users. I'm on your website right now.

Can you tell me why?

The internet is a multi-tool for life, people use it to pay their bills, communicate with friends and family, find employment, the list goes on and on.

I'm shopping on Amazon for a book that will expand my knowledge base and make me a better designer. This will make me happy.

I'm organising a get together with some old friends on Facebook. This will make me happy.

I'm paying off my credit card statements on Halifax so I can eventually remove the grey cloud lurking over my head. This will make me happy.

Every visitor to a website is on one thing, the Pursuit of Happiness.
So can you tell me why visitors are coming to your site?
are your designs helping them achieve their goal or hindering them?

For every addition you make you need to ask yourself Is this going to help my users on the pursuit of happiness or is it a speedbump?

If you're not solving a problem you're invariably going to create one. Eric Reiss

It's safe to assume that you're here to read an article, above and below this you see more article. To the east and the west there is a pattern, unique to this article, that I hope communicates the content visually.
I hope from the split second you land on the page, without even reading a word, you have some idea what the article is about.

Would the date of the post help you decide if you want to read it?
Would a Tweet This! button?
Would a list of articles you didn't come here to read?

Probably not.

I am still considering whether I need a navigation bar at the top of this page at all.

I'm on the pursuit of happiness and I know everything that shine ain't always gonna be gold Kid Cudi

Let's pretend for a second that what I want you to do and what you want to do are different things. Ideally I want you to read the article, post some feedback, share it with your friends and check out the rest of the site.
Maybe if I was more entrepreneurial I would throw a few advertisements in to pay for the cost of hosting the site.

But you are only here one thing, to read the article and leave.
Maybe then you feel happy and content.

I could try and influence your path through the site using brightly coloured buttons, pictures and sexy animation. Is that stimulating my pursuit of happiness or yours? The best I can do is help you on your way.

Chauffeur you through the article with smart typography and few distractions then wave you on your way when we reach our final destination.

Then, maybe you'll leave happy. You might even want to pass the happiness on to your friends.