Not just anyone can design an effective, efficient website that won’t be noticed by your site visitors. Yes! That’s exactly what you want… you want your site visitors to focus on your content, not on figuring out how to navigate through links, nested lists or complex purchase transactions. Following are eight tips to avoid common web design mistakes which will help ensure you design a smart site with an excellent user experience.
- Minimize the use of unprompted pop-ups or moving images. These create an underlying feeling of intrusive advertisements and can cheapen your message or content. If Marketing insists on ad banners, dedicate a specific area for the display and always provide a way to suspend the movement function. For example, provide a pause function for the scroll of the banners along with buttons to manually select each ad. This will make Marketing and your visitors happy.
- Background images can sometimes make it impossible to read text on the screen. Avoid using them but if your site requires images, ensure the text written over them is anchored to a portion with a contrasting color. An easy remedy is to overlay the text on the actual image, then flatten. Without this anchor, you run the risk of browser fluctuations, such as point and window size, “flowing” the text over an area without contrast, rendering your text unreadable.
- Always group your navigation tools across the top or down the left side of your pages. Assuming your users will be “looking for something” when they visit, place the content navigation where they will be looking first – (starting) in the upper left corner, typically below your company logo. Making your search tools logical and utilizing nested lists as often as possible will help keep your site clean and easy to read.
- Always place your functional buttons on the same side of the screen. Design experts recommend the right side; since we read from left to right, first we read, then we decide and then we take action. You’ll want that Buy Now button right near the end of your strongest sales point. If this seems counter-intuitive for your industry, visit similar sites and figure out if there is any consistency in functional button placement and then follow suit. If there is no consistency, follow these experts’ recommendations.
- When offering multiple selection options, select defaults that will minimize keystrokes. Research the demographics of your largest user group and pre-fill or pre-select those options. For example, if your largest customer base lives in America, set the default Country setting in their Profile as “United States.”
- Bread Crumbs are an excellent way for your site visitors to “find their way home” after exploring your site. For extremely complex site maps, offering active return links across the top of the site is generally a must-have.
- If you have an eCommerce site, simplifying the sales experience is essential. Making it simultaneously simple and robust will do more to generate return customers than most any site design feature. Offer complete product flexibility from your cart page, e.g., increase or decrease the number of products in their cart, remove an item, save the contents of their cart if they leave prior to the credit card transaction and remember previously-entered billing and shipping data. Bottom line, make buying the easiest thing they will do while on your site.
- Conduct formal Usability for your site design. Usability experts tend to be expensive but are well worth their fee. If however, budget constraints prohibit this analysis, conduct your own! Even if you just use printed pages of your not-yet-functional site, asking a real, live user what they expect to happen when they click a button will reveal design flaws. Gather a balanced sampling of your user community and remember, they aren't wrong! If they expect a different function than you intended, a redesign may be in order.
Happy Designing and feel free to contact us.