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Designing websites based on the intelligence of the target audience

Children are attracted to big clear images - and so are the stupid people

If you are in the market of appealing to the higher end of the intelligence spectrum, the less you focus on large images and easy to find buttons, the better. The more your website looks like this:

designing web by intelligence

The more it appeals to the lowest ranks on the intelligence spectrum.

Intelligent people tend to prefer clean layouts with little visual distraction, or, alternatively, visual websites that differ from everything they’ve ever seen before. They enjoy the challenge of finding their way through a new website (if made deliberately tricky, and they expect something good to come out of it) or they do not find a “normal” design a great (noticeable) challenge or an obstruction to find what they’re looking for. Confidentally design websites the way you like them, albeit it is true that sometimes we get blinded to a new user’s experience the more familiar we are with our own website. Adjust to perfection.

Pre-Wordpress web design

Back in the day when the Internet was young, we used to design websites that were screaming ‘clever’. As a visitor, a part of the fun was to guess how the content would be navigated, and a part of the fun was to create a website that people would have to treat as a vault to great things.

It was content from smart people to other smart people – simply being online was a show of something. To create a website required at least a basic understanding of HTML, something that was beyond a lot of people.

In addition, the Internet had very little attraction to people who like things the way they’ve always had them, same friends, same visuals, stuff they already recognize. In the early days, you would have been happy to find ONE friend online, and the main content in your email inbox was newsletters from forward-thinking businesses. Everything was new; just the way smart people like it.

The good old days before the dummies logged on. 😀

Whenever a person needs to leave Facebook, it predicts a rise in IQ

Instagram, although HIGHLY VISUAL already ranks higher in IQ than Facebook does. Although I haven’t got any official data on this, by creating an ad with keywords that normally relate to the interests of the high in IQ, surprisingly, you get a higher market segment on Instagram than on Facebook. This was a surprise to me, considering how visual Instagram is, but the fact that the user has to leave Facebook to use Instagram is the key element here.

Imagine when the user visits websites like Reddit or Quora, both of which are very plain in visuals and require interaction with total strangers over intellectual matters. The low in IQ avoid everything they are not familiar with, including people and different looking people.

The dumber your design gets, the less the high in IQ like your website

I’ve been normally excited about every new redesign of Facebook layout, as it’s often been towards more options. More options create more usage opportunities but it also confuses people. This last design change, has been done to make it possible for lower than average IQ to be enough to manage a page.

The page functions are now so easily available, that every time you visit your own page, you have to skip and jump over massive buttons that take forever to get past.

In addition, all the relevant content is packed on top of each other on the front page, so that the dummies wouldn’t have to think for a second where to find such a thing like an about page or similar. All there, ready to go. Once they’ve seen it, the attention span is spent.

Why eliminate the dummies?

Yeah, well, political correctness is not exactly my strong point… And I’m beyond frustrated with them…

The lower of intelligence complain just in case. They make customer support a nightmare, but often it’s a matter of comfort or money. They complain just in case, because they don’t really know if they have been mistreated, so they complain to see your reaction. If you act guilty or apologetic, as intelligent, polite people do, they interpret it as “acting quilty.”

They also argue with other social web users just to see where they rank in the hierarchy. Granted, so do relatively smart people in an area crowded by smart people -each trying to prove their own intelligence compared to others when they start feeling threatened by other people’s intelligence compared to their own. Someone who has always felt they’re the smartest kid in the room will feel like a bitten dog when faced with people who don’t even raise an eyebrow to their perceived intelligence because they’ve got plenty of it for themselves.

The Must-Have

Low IQ people like to feel like they’re up with the times and “in the know”. The must-use app or the must-have gadget will need to be dumbed down as soon as it becomes “the must-have item”… The less intelligent no longer know how to use it, but they insist they HAVE TO.

This is a sign of low-self confidence that goes together with low intelligence; the inability to know whether what I’m into/using is good enough. They need a lot of backing and “social proof” to decide whether it’s cool or uncool to use some product. Social proof is more important to them than using the product for themself, because they lack understanding of what they are using. So they complain about the specifications just in case.

It would be a good idea to drum up the perceived value of a basic item, even raising the price on it well above the specialized or the full-feature version. Promote the full-featured one at events where nerds gather and make no apologies telling them that this is the too smart for the general public -version of the same.

Simplicity as a selling point

Promote the simplified version with loud imagery and upbeat music, happy faces – the usual, say it’s designed for simplicity, so simple your granny can use it and make it so. Promote REMOVED features as a selling point – so you only have what you need. This audience considers it a favor that you’ve stripped it down for them, while they regard the intelligent version of the same gadget a punishment for the professionals to deal with.

Then, simply make a low-tone, matter of fact mention of the full-featured, professional version, with technical information available on your website. Then surprise your customers by reversing the expected price tag. You’ll sell tons more of the general public ones, to people who would never bother checking your website  (too complicated) and use that profit on developing the full-featured gadget that will be completely over the heads of the median of intelligence/knowledge. The more calls you get from people who bought it to look smart, telling you they can’t use it, the better!

Apply to your web content

Now that you’ve got the gist of this approach, you can use this to either eliminate or attract by the intelligence. Low noise will catch the attention of the intelligent, and high noise will catch the attention of the lower of intelligence. Imagine the intelligent being drawn to peace and calm, while the low of intelligence is drawn to loud noises and music.

The intelligent people read a lot of signs that you don’t even notice you’re putting out there. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. They may know that you’ve got potential, but keep looking when they see a sign of a product not yet finished. They may also be more understanding than the low of intelligence when they see a product well on its way, even if it wasn’t ready yet. They are drawn to potential almost as much as they are drawn to perfection.

Understate, understate. Let them figure it out on their own.

They’ll see you.

It’s the babies in adult bodies you have to keep entertained with colored buttons and large images.


This article is based on common sense and personal observation. Test and experiment before you present it to your supervisor.

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