HTML Design Tips: part 2
useit.com: Jakob Nielsen's Site is a GREAT reference. Also learn from Web Pages That Suck!
5 of 10 design tips, part 2
Here are the 1 - 5 design tips
who can publish?, design flexibility, cs vs. bs, design to biz goals
- Make sure important information is easily found.
It should be at the beginning of documents, to encourage further investigation. Do not expect your visitor to read information that is not value adding in order to get to valuable information. It is quite similar to developing offline publicity materials. If you want editors to run your publicity, then you need to get them very interested in the title, then the first paragraph. Visitors have a short attention span and zero switching costs.
- Understand that the visitor has control of information consumption
Do not assume the visitor will follow a typical path through your site. Visitors have the navigational control, unlike other, linear media. You need to make sure that visitors can always return to your homepage (do not assume that is how they accessed your site). You need to make sure there is logical progression in the design of your site, and it is not confusing. Having people unfamiliar with the site navigate it will help with these issues.
- Information and design currency
WWW allows you to keep information current. Make sure that you do. Information that is old is poorly perceived. However, old information may still be useful, and may be linked to search engines, so you need to develop a good method of archiving information. Since WWW allows you to track visitors to your site you can analyze the paths that visitors take. This information is very useful in helping you keep the design of the site current. If there is a page that is visited regularly, but is buried quite deep in the site, then you may consider linking it directly to the front page. This will help increase its awareness and the usability of the site.
- Editorial rigor
You may have seen many sites on WWW that include poor use of language. This is a function of the number of sites on WWW and hence the number of "new" publishers. It is not a function of the acceptance amongst web users of poor quality. If you are trying to convince someone to buy a product, or to read, comprehend and believe in the credibility of your information resource (marketing message etc.) then you need to present things clearly and understandably. Poor grammar ad speeling will bi lik listenin of I spiker in a confernce who ws poorly drissed, doent shiwer and spooke incoooherntly :)...would you believe what the speaker had to say --- would you even understand the message!
- Hook, a reason to return on a regular basis
Since WWW is unobtrusive, you need to be proactive in developing reasons for browsers to return, in order to gain repitition (very important in off line marketing). There must be compelling reasons for your WWW audience to return on a regular basis. These reasons will differ, depending on the marketing goals of your site. If its for customer service, then customers will return when they have a product question, assuming their questions are answered once the customer is at the site. If it is a content site, then the content must be compelling, and changed often, to warrant regular visits. Content sites that don't change they're information regularly will soon be forgotten by browsers as a place to get information. If the site's goals are related to other marketing activities (promotion/retail etc.) then it is wise to try to develop additional reasons to bring browsers back. Perhaps having a part of your site sponsor relevant issues to your target audience (health sponsorship for a food company), running contests etc. will be appropriate. It is very important that the "hook" is something that is relevant to your target audience(s). If its not, you may increase the number of times your site is accessed, but not the number of times it is accessed by your target audience.