Website Usability Advice For Online Business
In addition to your customers, take advantage of technology to improve usability. For instance, log files tell you which pages are most visited and for how long, unique vs. repeat visitors, etc. They will not tell you whether users found what they wanted, or why they abandoned their shopping carts. Many services advise on predictable problems such as broken links, missing ALT tags for images, page load performance, but are as anticipated unable to spot complex things like difficulty in locating products, awkward navigation, meaningless graphics, or poor results from on site search. Flow It is important to create a uniform feel for your website.
Uniform doesn’t mean boring, rather it mean consistent. When a visitor lands on your homepage your goal is to engage the user. As the user browses through the site, a uniform feel is going to simplify the user experience. One of the worst web sites make every page look wildly different, so the visitor never becomes comfortable with the site. If you make your web pages utterly different, it is less likely that your visitor becomes quickly familiar with the site.
Images There is nothing more boring than a website without images. A site with text only is dull and overwhelming at the same time. Images can create excitement and help spice up your content. The most important concern with images is file size. Images can be fairly large files, slowing down the page load process. If your images are too large, or you have too many, reduce the number of images or the file size. Speed You can’t afford to lose visitors because they give up waiting for your entire page to load. The Internet is a fast moving superhighway, and if you website doesn’t keep up it’s going to be left behind. Page load has to do with file size, server performance, and available network bandwidth. Although more-and-more people connect to the Internet through fast broadband connections, keep in mind the dial up users too.
Flash Avoid Flash websites at, almost, all cost because it lowers usability. Flash encourages design abuse as it slows websites. There is nothing worse than visiting a website and having to wait for a clever Flash animation to load. Your customers are visiting your site because they are looking for a product or service. They, for the most part, could not care less about viewing a flash movie. Sorry, the “skip intro” button is not much help either. Flash intros are slow, obnoxious, and will result in loss of revenue. Don’t add flash for the cool factor. Unless it serves a purpose, forget it. Many Flash designers reduce the granularity of user control and regress to old school presentation styles that resemble television age media rather than cyber age media.
Websites that force visitors to sit through sequences with nothing to do eradicate the single most important characteristic of the Internet, interactivity.