Designing a Web Site Content for Visitor Usability

The Internet has become a place that anyone who has access has the ability to create a web site. While this great for all the users who want to participate in the online community it has breed a whole new array of bad web page designs.

Many first time, and even experienced, web site designers feel that the more color, graphics, music and movement on site the better. Though these design elements are vital for making a site stand out, using too many of these elements can shadow the content and message of the site, and in some instances slow the site down.

In addition, with the focus on providing content for both the visitor and search engine rankings, usability design has taken a back seat. Though a site might get a high ranking there is a possibility the site will not be visited because the visitor can’t navigate the site or is displeased by the appearance of the site.

Below are some basic design tips for formatting a web site so visitors enjoy their experience.

Forms:

âÂ?¢ If content is required in a field, please specify that it is a required field. Don’t wait until the user hits submit to notify them that they are missing information.

� When provided links to external sites make sure the link opens in a new browser window.

� For fields on a form that require that the information needs to be formatted in specific manner place a note next to the field that displays the appropriate format.

� If a user needs to comply with terms or conditions, and they click on a link to read these conditions, do not have the fields that have already filled out clear.

Formatting:

� White text on a dark background, no matter which font is used, is a strain on the eyes

� Color is great and it can add life to any site but only if used properly. Keep the number of colors at a minimum otherwise all of the color will distract from the content.

� Music can add a nice touch to a web site but use it sparingly and give the visitor the ability to turn off the sound.

âÂ?¢ Avoid using graphics as a background if they obstruct the text. It is very hard to read text that is placed on top of a graphic – even if the graphic is a watermark.

� Limit the number of flashing banners. Too many banners flashing on one page distract from the content of the site. If at all possible remove all flashing banners or try to only place one per page.

� Make sure the site is consistent. Each page should display the same menus and option buttons which should be positioned in the same area on each page.

� Keep the design is simple without a lot of clutter, icons, colors, and hyperlinks. Make sure everything is clearly labeled as to identify the function.

� Flash movies are a great addition to a web site but should be limited otherwise site performance could be affected. Also, the visitor should have the option to exit out of any flash animation on the site.

Navigation:

� Allow the user to navigate around the site by the use of a static menu. This will allow them to move section to section without having to return to the home page or use the browser back button.

� Make sure the user can quickly identify which section they are currently visiting by the changing the color of the navigation button or hyperlink. In addition, each page should have a title indicating which page the user is viewing.

� In any section of the site the user should be able to obtain help from an agent or help system.

� Designing a Web Site for Visitor Usability

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