In a future post, I’m going to talk about what it takes to create an effective website. One of the things I talk about a lot is usability. There are probably a lot more keys to usability than just 3 but here we talk about 3 of the more important ones – consistency, intuitive, and easy.
Consistency – It’s vital that a webpage remains consistent from page to page. The navigation menu needs to stay in the same place, the banner should remain the same, etc. That doesn’t mean the design has to be boring or EXACTLY the same…but the layout certainly should. One thing to keep it interesting is by having different pictures on different pages…or using a random function to produce different content on different pages.
The reason you want to keep it consistent is because you don’t want to lose your web users. If they click a link that brings them to a page on your site that throws them off, they’re likely to get confused and leave.
Intuitive – The idea here is to make things easy to predict. You want your web users to feel confident in what will happen when they do certain things. You also want your navigation to make sense. If you have a “Get Involved” link – you want the sub categories under that link to be things like “Donate”, “Volunteer”, and “Join”. It should just make good sense.
Make sure that any links on your sites leading to other websites (such as a resource page) open in a NEW navigation window. Your web users will click it, read it, and close it. If it opens in the same window as your website, they just closed out your website. Not a good practice.
Another thing to remember in making things intuitive is that you want to make the links throughout your site LOOK like links. Don’t give regular text color or underlining if it’s not a link. Users will try and click it to no avail which will simply frustrate them. See? That was a cruel trick. Make sure links look like links.
Easy – One of the common phrases in web design is “Don’t make me think”. Things should be easy: easy to find, easy to navigate, easy to interact, easy to leave. Always keep this in mind when positioning elements on a page. This is similar to the intuitive concept, but takes it a step further. If there is information on your site that is important that users see…put it on the front page! No sense in hiding it somewhere they may not find. Make things easy on them.
If you’re having a web developer create your website, just make sure that what he’s creating is easy on the user. Oftentimes a developer will create something that is easy on HIM, the developer…not your users. Don’t let him get lazy – if it seems like your web users have to be internet experts to use your site then you need to change some things.
Hopefully these ideas will be able to get you started on making a really user friendly website. Stay tuned as more posts will be coming out in the upcoming weeks.