Knowledgebase: Tips & Tricks
8 Tips for a User-Friendly Website
Posted by Support, Last modified by Support on 22 December 2007 02:44 AM
Usability on the web is of utmost importance. Why? Because the web is an interactive medium, and you want your visitors to interact with your website, not leave in frustration. Here are some basic tips to give your viewer a better experience.

  1. Think like a user. This is primary. Your users want to find what they are looking for and then get back to their life, their job, or their solitaire game. Make their lives easier and they'll love it; make their lives harder and they'll leave.
  2. Don't force your users to do, see, or click anything. Internet users want to be in control. They came to your site looking for something. Studies of internet behavior shows people are actually hunting, not browsing. They are in control, they are tracking down the information they want. Your job is to make their job easier. Don't put up any roadblocks to their search, like "splash screens", or "skip intro" Flash pages.
  3. Understand the medium. This is not a slideshow, a Powerpoint presentation, a video, a commercial. This is a website. People are not always going to enter from your homepage, so there needs to be good, consistent navigation on every page. People aren't going to go where you want them to, they are going to go where they want to. Keep that in mind, and provide flexible navigation solutions like a search engine.
  4. Be conservative with elements like Flash. Flash can be a powerful tool to demonstrate certain things, but it is overused and can be a huge distraction. Animation in general draws the eye and is very hard to ignore. That can be a useful effect, but if you have an article and you want people to read it, having an animation right next to it will make that very difficult.
  5. Invest some time in your site architecture. Site architecture is basically the sitemap and navigation component. List all the types of users that will be coming to your site and what they will be looking for. Make sure your navigation schema lets the most amount of people find what they are looking for as quickly as possible. Don't bury popular information three levels down.
  6. Reduce clutter. Think about each element on your pages - does it really need to be there? Each part of your page will draw the user's attention: make sure you are drawing them for a purpose and to draw them closer to their goal.
  7. Avoid surprises. Use standard placements for expected elements. There is a time and place to be creative: site navigation is not it. When a majority of sites put their logo in the left top corner of their site and link it to the homepage, people start to expect it. This is a good thing: it makes everyone's lives easier. In general, webpage elements should work like people expect them to.
  8. Use the least amount of technology to accomplish your goal. I saw a site once that was using Javascript to display all the links on their pages. There is absolutely no reason to do this, when simple HTML would do just fine. Whenever you use a newer, or more complicated way to do something, you introduce the possibility of bugs, compatibility errors, browser variations, etc.
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