In today’s world, the web plays an extremely vital role in the way business and life is run. In the last 10 years, the web has revolutionized the way people shop, go to school, find directions and even find relationships. This is because the web is the world’s largest single network of information. As a result of the web’s popularity, many businesses have found it almost a necessity to have their own website. When embarking on having a website for your self or your business, there are certain best practices that dictate whether your web presence will be a success of a failure. We will examine what makes good websites as far as their design and usability is concerned.
Avoid Splash Pages
A splash page is usually an animated intro of what the site is about and many designers normally include fancy graphics, music, or Flash animation. At first glance this is a great way to introduce your site to the world especially if your site is geared towards the younger audience. While these types of pages may seem “cool”, the reality is that people come to your site to find information or sovle a problem they are having. Anything you do to prevent them from find the information they are looking for decreases the usability of your site and increases the likelihood that the user will leave. Even with splash pages that are well done (which is rare), once you’ve seen them, they quickly become annoyances that must be “skipped” to get to the main site and information you want.
Use a Simple and Logical Navigation System
Usability analyst Steve Krug’s best selling book titled, “Don’t make me think,” tells us to keep things simple. What this means in terms of your site’s navigation is that it’s structure should be easy for anyone to follow. People should know where they are and how to get back to where they stared. The “home” button should be present on all the pages. A website is considered amateurish and illogical when a surfer has to use the “back” or “forward” button of their browser in order to navigate your site.
Avoid Excessively Long Pages
While it is understood that surfers coming to your website are looking for information, reading on the web is decidedly different than off-line. You must take care to present your information in an easily digestible way for the reader. Users lose patience when forced to scroll through an excessively long page. One option is to break up your text into different pages and utilize contextual links to allow users to find the information they want.
Use Audio Sparingly
While audio can enhance the interactivity of a site, care should be given when adding sound to your website. Only incorporate sound if it compliments or enhances the message being communicated. In some cases users may already have other music playing when surfing the web.