Colordance Design

Best Practices for Web Site Usability – II

Minimal & Consistent Navigation

It is important to organize your content and links so the eye is not confused about where to look. The link names and the order of the links on the page should be designed to allow your viewers to get to the most important and most often needed information quickly and efficiently. Main navigation headings should be broad, one word headings, limited to 7-9 words, consistent in color and location on every page. Typical main navigation headings may include: About, Services, Calendar, Shop, Gallery, and News, or variations on these broad categories. Secondary navigation can be handled in drop down menus or in a consistent place on subsequent pages, and can be one or two words.

All links, whether they are navigation headings within the web site or links to other sites, need to be one consistent color and style throughout your site. This makes it easy for your viewer to scan the page and read your copy. If they have a difficult time navigating your site, or if links are broken, it gives the impression that you don’t care about your business or audience.

Audience Preferences

Viewers do not like too much scrolling so keep its best to keep content concise. Use “Next / Previous” links to continue a long article on multiple pages. Music on web sites can be distracting and unwanted unless the user can control when it plays. Often web sites are viewed in settings where music would disturb others, for example, in libraries, coffee shops or other public places. So, if you must add music to your web site, make sure there is an on and off button.

A series of animated images can be helpful to tell a story, either on your homepage or secondary page. Yet, it is important to remember that the eye is drawn to movement. Be careful not to pull the viewer’s eye off the page, and avoid swipes. Fades are preferable to swipes for photo transitions.

Build a Content Rich Site

Post content of interest to your viewers to create reasons for viewers to return to your site. This meets their needs for additional educational information, easy sign up for events, opportunity to view your calendar, quick access to your hours and location, ability to shop online, as well as tips for how to do things. Viewers are more likely to bookmark your site, and recommend it to their friends when it meets their needs. This could be accomplished with:
• short movie clips,
• an online shopping cart,
• a workshop/class registration page,
• educational news/blog posts,
• or an online payment option for services/tickets

Keep it updated too!

Scanning vs Reading

Unlike a book, web site pages are scanned for the pertinent information required. Short paragraphs and sentences with concise explanations help viewers scan your web site content. Heads, sub heads, bullets and numbered lists are also effective.

Key Words

Finally, make a list of key words your audience would use to do a Google search to find your site. These words may be descriptive adjectives as well as practical geographic terms. Keep the list nearby when you are writing your web site copy. Embed these words in your headings and text. It is okay to be redundant, since most viewers do not read your web site pages from “cover to cover.”

Keeping these points in mind, you will have a user friendly site.

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