Don`t make me think! – Website usability

Article

This is web usability expert Steve Krug`s golden rule. In his best selling book he explains “..if Web pages are going to be effective, they have to work most of their magic at a glance. And the best way to do this is to create pages that are self-evident, or at least self-explanatory”.

If you want people to interact with and spend time using your site, usability has to be a primary concern in the design process. Make sure your web developer understands the following usability points.

“Less is More”

Websites that frantically try to cram everything possible onto the smallest area of your computer screen usually confuse and frustrate users. Krug explains that new users to a website often arrive with some existing reservoir of goodwill but this can be quickly exhausted if its not obvious what is important or how to get to the information that they really want to see. Krug’s advice, “throw away everything you think you don`t need on the page, then throw away half of what’s left!” It might be an exaggeration but it makes a clear message. Cluttered pages drive away your audience.

Your website shouldn’t`t need a manual

Messages like “click here to learn how to use this site” are an open admission of poor usability. A simple rule to remember is that things that are “clickable” should look clickable. Menus should look like menus. Forms should look like forms.

A convention is a terrible thing to waste

Whether you drive a Lexus, Land cruiser or Lamborghini, we all know basically where to find the accelerator, brake, turning indicators, gear change mechanism and so on. One reason for this is that car makers know what drivers expect. Websites are similar. Users expect the company logo to be in a certain place with a link back to the home page. Users expect that the main menu items will lead only to other pages within the same site. Users expect that “clickable” elements will react in some way when the curser is hovered. There are many other things which users expect from a web page both in design and function and your website is wasting a valuable resource if it doesn’t`t pay attention to design conventions.

Make your site usable for EVERYONE

Most web designers are relatively young and able bodied. There is a corresponding assumption from a lot of them that users are in the same condition. But good web designers realize that a sizable percentage of people have some kind of visual disability, or have trouble using a mouse or are badly affected by flashing animation etc. So there are important reasons to seriously consider accessibility issues when making a site.

  • People with disabilities are potential customers too.
  • There may be a legal requirement for your website to be accessible for the disabled.
  • Ethically its the right thing to do. Be a responsible member of the online community.
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