Lesson 21 - Designing Web Usability

If the viewer can not find what he wants, your web pages are useless. Bad usability relates to no viewers. You must design with this big picture in mind. This lesson addresses usability concepts you can use to improve your site.

Screen Real Estate Your pages should be dominated by content of interest to the viewer. If the viewer is looking for advice on wills, any part of your page that deals with anything else is a distraction. Organize your pages to have minimal content so the viewer doesn't have to spend a lot of time looking, and can get to the desired information with only a couple of clicks. To get the point, go to this site and see how long it takes you to find the TV listings.

Cross-Browser Design As you discovered in this course, different browsers display the same page differently, use different commands and ignore other browser's proprietary commands. You must design for the 'generic' browser to accommodate as much of your audience as possible. Test your pages on different browsers, with different computers.

Dynamic Pages Allowing the viewer to control aspects of her visit to your site will increase level of interest and a sense of user-friendliness. Too much of anything is bad, and animated GIFs, moving text, blinking images become annoying to most viewers, particularly if they have to refresh the page often. A ball bouncing across the screen is interesting once only. Consider minimizing motion and providing viewer options through scripting or links.

Page Loading Viewers are an impatient bunch. How long will you wait for a page to load? Experts consider eight seconds a long time (ask any bull rider). Remember that your viewers may not have high speed internet access. To speed loading times, minimize memory-hogs like graphics and multimedia. Give your viewers something to look at while the rest of the page loads.

Grouping If you must put a lot on one page, try grouping parts of the page for a quick scan. For instance, if you have a page with nothing but links to other pages, group the links by whatever category you can imagine and the viewer can zero-in on the link of choice sooner.

Themes Your pages should flow visually as well as logically. A viewer should know he is on a page from your site just by the feel it gives him. A common color scheme, or a common background image aids in associating one page with another. Style sheet are made for this.

Colors As with anything else, too much or too little of a good thing makes a bad thing. Try to use compatible colors that follow a theme (?cool blue?outdoor green?heavy black?). If you use more than 5-6 different colors on a page, it is probably too much.

Frames Think twice before using them. You are minimizing viewer control by forcing them. Many viewers don't like them, so why cause irritation?

Content Content is king - everything else is just a backdrop. Keep the text short and to the point. Cpell chek evrythin! Know what your page looks like when it is printed. Use plain language. Use headers and titles to make a point. Make sure text is readable.

Consider your audience Viewers with disabilities? . . . demographics . . . what time constraints? . . . what backgrounds? . . . what needs?

Navigation Is it easy to get around on your site? Does the viewer know where she is at all times? Is your site searchable by a spider?

No doubt, you can think of a lot more that influences what makes a good web design. Try to keep all of these things in the forefront, and they will become second nature.

For more on this via the web, see this page.

Here are some examples:

Lesson 20 Formatting with Tables   < <  PREVIOUS   Table of Contents NEXT  > >   Lesson 22 Frames/Inline Frames

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