Web Usability

There is no shortage of websites available to the typical web surfer.  Consequently, if you want to keep someone on your page, you not only have to have content and find-ability, you have to stand up to expected usability standards.  The first time I get lost in a site, can’t find my way back to the homepage, or link to something that isn’t what was described, I move on.  Someone else will give me what I am seeking without all the hassle. 

So to keep your web audience and then keep the coming back, sometimes it is best not to reinvent the wheel.  The wheel is a pretty fantastic and, right now, it works better than the hover craft (as far as I know, that is still in the imagination stages). 

Here are some things to keep in mind:

Click Logo -> Go to Homepage

This is a personal pet peeve of mine.  If I am ever lost and confused, I need my safety button to take me back to familiar territory.  Give that logo more to do than sit there and look pretty.

Make those buttons and links talk

  • If my mouse is over the button, it needs to do something pretty to say hello.  A nice color change or magnify will do. 
  • In fact, if my mouse is over anything that is clickable, go ahead and make the cursor a hand.  It is a universal plead to the user to “click here”.
  • Once I have bowed to temptation, indicate that the link has been used.  Try making the color to the link more subtle.  It has already done its job; so there is no reason that it needs to keep drawing attention to itself.
  • Make sure the selectable area of the link is a usable size.  If a link is just the text, it can be difficult to select. 

Basic layouts with familiar menus

I am a woman on a mission.  I really don’t have time to figure out any special navigation.  I came to your site for a reason.  Give me a menu horizontally on the top or the bottom or vertically on the left.  Allow me to use a search utility that is in the top right hand corner in case we don’t think exactly the same about how to organize the information. 

Don’t let me feel lost

  • Provide a trail of where I have been.  It is very likely if I am shopping for a cute pair of boots that I notice some sandals on my way in.  I don’t want have to go back to apparel to women’s to shoes to find the sandal menu.   I’ll probably just forget them.
  • If I do stray off the path, provide an error page that is informative to the user.  It would be nice to be greeted with a message saying “Oh no!  That link didn’t work.  Let’s try this again.  Tell me what you are looking for and I’ll try to help” along with a search box.  This will be much more helpful to the user than a 404 page.

Be proud of the superior web content that you no doubt have ready to populate your new site!  Make sure that you don’t miss sharing because your link was disguised as a picture that didn’t speak up when my mouse passed over it.  Make sure that I remember to go back and look at the cute sandals.  Don’t let one silly 404 page stop me from continuing my jaunt through your site.  Getting visitors to your site is a big part of the battle, don’t waste that victory.

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