Thursday, November 29, 2007

Designing pages

Cleanly Designed Pages

Cleanly designed pages are pleasant to look at and easy to read. It is almost impossible to make a site with an image shown as a tiled background usable - the whole thing is too distracting and confusing. It takes no great design skills to create clean pages; it just requires thought and adherence to the principle that when it comes to design, less usually is more.

Download Status

Most paid membership websites are limited to online access and information download rather than selling products. There should be clear download instructions provided. Your website should also state the size of the file in kilobytes and the estimated time of download for a user having a 56K modem, DSL, Cable and so on.

Usability Problems

While for large commercial sites investment in full-scale usability studies may be essential, few small sites can afford such luxuries. However, identifying problems with usability for your site need be no more complicated than asking a few (honest) friends to act as guinea pigs on your site and, if possible, watching them silently as they do this. Watching users try to find information at your site can be both instructive and quite surprising.

Remember that if at any stage you feel the urge to intervene and explain, then you have identified a usability problem. List of the Most Common Usability Problems .. The site does not state its purpose clearly .. Java applets, huge images, banner ads or flashy elements slow down loading; 10 seconds is about as long as the average user will wait for a page.

The site requires specific software to be used. Have you ever actually changed browsers or downloaded a piece of software just to see a site?

Poor navigation, too little navigation, too much navigation and, not uncommonly, no navigation at all .. Bad design leading to poor readability

Discomfort due to ugly design or inconsistent design. Almost always because a designer overestimated their skills.

Irrelevance of content - for example the business site that includes biographies and photos of each of the board members. Happy egos on the board; bored website visitors!

Complexity or excessive originality of design, which requires users to learn how it works in order to use it.

Inaccessibility because the site cannot be used by browsers for people with disabilities.

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