The Ten Leading Mistakes in Web Design and Management
There are many mistakes committed by individuals in the field of Web design and management. It is good to know, though, that there are less usability crimes committed against users now than before.
This article presents the ten worst errors in Web design.
1. Poorly designed search engines – Some search engines take searches too literally to the point that usability is cut in half. These search engines cannot manage hyphens, plural forms, typos and other variants of the terms inputted. Such search engines not only make life harder for everyone but are especially difficult to use by the elderly.
Sometimes, search engines rank results on the basis of the amount of query terms inputted, rather than on the relation of each document to your search. It would be an improvement if the search engine places the articles with the closest relationship to your search at the top of the list, particularly for important searches.
The search engine is the next option for users when navigation does not work. Simple search is the most convenient method so search should be offered as a simple box for the benefit of users.
2. The use of PDF Files – PDF files are the pits to use since these break the flow during browsing. Standard browser commands are useless thus rendering printing or saving more difficult. The font of the layout is also smaller as it was made to fit into a sheet of paper.
Navigation is harder with PDF files though PDF works well for compressing huge documents into one file for printing. Thus, PDF should be confined to this purpose while other information that should be browsed or read on-screen must be converted into real web pages.
3. Maintaining the color of visited links to just one – When users cannot tell the difference between a visited link and a link which has yet to be tapped due to no color changes, it makes the experience of navigation that much more difficult.
Links that do not change color cause users to return to the same links over and over again, which is disorienting – not to mention irritating.
4. Text that is difficult to scan – A block of text found online is difficult to read. To improve scannability, it is important to
use the following:
• Bulleted lists
• Highlighted keywords
• Short paragraphs
• The inverted pyramid
• A simple writing style
• Language that is direct to the point.
5. Using a fixed font size for CSS Style sheets – Websites often disable the change-font-size button on Web browsers to designate a fixed font size. Most of the time, such a fixed font size is too small for majority of readers over the age of 40. Users should have the option to resize text when needed.
6. Maintaining Page Titles with low search engine visibility – It is important to use good page titles to lure new visitors during their search while permitting current users to find the specific pages required.
If you are designing a homepage, start with the company name. Then describe the site briefly. Do not begin with words such as The or Welcome To. Aside from the homepage, other pages should have a title that begins with words that closely describe what the user will read on that page.
Taglines on homepages should also be short while concisely giving the purpose of the site.
7. Using designs that look like advertisements – Users frequently ignore any site whose homepage appears to advertise something.
Users display the following behavior as far as design is concerned:
• Banner blindness
• Animation avoidance
• Ignoring pop-ups
8. Not being consistent with design – Users rely on the design principles used in most websites to form expectations of what will be found on yours. Disappointing your users makes them feel insecure - which is bad. It makes the site that much harder to use and users will eventually leave.
9. Opening new browser windows – This is discouraged as it confuses users and undermines their understanding of how their system works.
10. Failing to answer the question of the user – The worst crime a website can commit is to fail to supply the information a user was looking for. Users only visit sites because they are goal-driven and want to accomplish something. When you use too much language to market to the user, the same thing happens – the user loses interest and leaves.
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