It’s important that your website be simple and easy to use, if not, your visitors will become frustrated and soon leave. Here are a few guidelines that we follow based on our research and experience:
The User Experience:
- Avoid using pop-ups.
Users hate annoying pop-ups windows, so we avoid them; but as always, there are exceptions.
- Exclude Flash introductions.
Users need to get directly to your content. Flash animations are expected for entertainment sites, but for business, service related and information-driven websites, people won’t wait, they want to get to the valuable information waiting just behind the flash.
- Present credible information.
Contact details (phone, location, and valid email address), article citations and links to credible sources should be easily found on the website; the lack of these does not add to your site’s credibility.
- Pages should load as fast as possible.
- Visited links should be colored as such.
Have you ever clicked on a link only to visit the same page you just read? Visited links within content should change color or show some indication to the user that the page was previously visited.
- Readable sized fonts.
Depending on a user’s screen resolution and monitor size, users shouldn’t have to resize the screen’s text to read your content. The font should be at a readable size in the first place.
- Websites that print well.
Websites are documents for screen use, but users will occasionally need to print your content; it should be printable, excluding all the unnecessary stuff like: sidebar advertisements, menus and upper navigation. This is easily done with a CSS print style sheet.
- Interactive user feedback.
Users should get a Thank-you page when they submit a form; this will let them know the form was successfully received. There should be a message or graphic indicating how long a video will take to load and play.
- Link should use common names.
The main navigation should be understandable; we try to avoid phrases, unknown abbreviations or words that aren’t common. When the user clicks they should find what they expected.
The main navigation should be consistent and present on all pages and should not change. Menus are different from the navigation because they change depending on which section a visitor is located. Menus are secondary to navigation.
- Content links should be descriptive.
Links within content should be descriptive rather than using the words “click here”. The HTML title=””attribute should be used to describe the destination of the link if necessary.
- Inline links.
Long pages should offer inline links to sections within the page, followed by another inline link to jump the user back to the page’s Table of Contents; this minimizes the scrolling the user would have to do without them – this is often seen on FAQs pages.
- Current page highlighting.
Visitors should know what page they are on by the mark of a highlighted
menu or navigation link.
- Content links should have underlines.
Links within paragraphs should use underlines to differentiate from normal content.
- Scan-able Content
Content should be laid out for scan-ability, using headings, bold-text and bullet points. The length of text on each line shouldn’t be too long or too short – some say: just around 55 characters.
- Have a Homepage.
All major services, links, news or anything of importance should be placed here. People need this page as a starting point and an introduction to your website.
- About the site.
Users should have a clear understanding of what your website is all about; short paragraphs and taglines are very useful on the homepage.
- De-clutter with white space.
We use “white space”, so page elements like paragraphs, lists, navigation elements do not look cluttered.
- Consistent alignment.
Elements should be aligned consistently throughout the website.
Graphics / Style / Colors:
- Background and Text.
The site should have a readable contrast between the background color and the text color.
Images should be sharp and not be pixelated; designers should not use HTML to fit large images into a webpage. The image should be optimized, cropped and resized, beforehand, to fit the webpage. Large HTML-resized images slow down load time.