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  • 31Jul
    Web Site Usability Comments Off

    Website Design That Can Improve Its Usability

    Internet users encounter a website’s usability before they even have decided to use it and more so before they make up their minds on probable purchases. A fact is, the World Wide Web is the supreme setting for empowerment, where the one who is clicking the mouse controls everything.

    Search engine marketing is important as generally visitors utilize search engines in order to discover your website. However once they reach your site, they should be able to use your site with ease and understand its content.
    Research shows that of 43 million internet websites, only 42 percent are found to be usable.

    Evidently, a major measure of website success is its effectiveness in converting leads into buyers.  However, recent studies show that 50 percent of website sales are wasted due to the fact that visitors can not locate the content that they need; this leads to reduced web productivity, increased visitor frustration, wasted visitor time as well as loss of visitor’s repeat visits then loss of website money.

    Studies done by usability experts estimates that by improving your visitors’ web encounter, it increases your buyers by about 40 percent and also increases overall amount of orders by 10 percent.

    A fact is, internet users do not like to wait, more so learning how to go about using a hard to navigate home page. Individuals need to easily understand how a certain website functions immediately after they have scanned the page.

    Here are guidelines to improve your website’s usability:

    Simple and clear web navigation design

    •    It must be situated in the exact same location on each page and in exact same format, so that your visitors will not get frustrated and confused if links disappear and appear unpredictably.

    •    Use suitable text in your links. Your visitors must know where links will take them, through reading the text provided in your link.

    •    Employ the use of CSS to give emphasis on text links.

    •    Include always text links. Keep in mind that each page must have “text links” which links to all important parts of the website.

    •    Include a “site logo” linking to your home page. Generally site logos are located at the topmost “left-hand” corner of the page, where most visitors have the tendency to go even before searching for the homepage link which usually is located in your navigation system.

    •    Place a website search box to help your visitors locate quickly the information that they need.

    Have a simple, authentic and clear content.

    An attractive web design no doubt attracts visitors yet good content is what keeps your visitors on your site and inspires them to visit again.

    •    When you write your content, while it is important to think of search engines and keywords, also think of your visitors and present the content in a manner that is easily understandable and to solve their problems.

    •    Create an attractive heading and each paragraph should offer appealing statements all the time.

    •    Create a page content that is easy to scan and emphasize your most important points with colors, bold letters or header tags.

    Support your brand

    A great brand strengthens your visitors’ impression or idea of your website. A site that is branded strongly imprints in your visitors mind your products each time they go “shopping”.

    •    Keep typefaces and colors consistent. Pick fonts and colors carefully and consistently use them throughout the website.

    •    Keep your page layout constant. Employ the use of a “website template” in order to carry out a consistent page structure.

    •    Make a helpful custom page error that can help visitors should they click on “a broken link” or enter an incorrect URL.

    Provide visitor feedback

    Forms are essential to your ecommerce site’s success, as without it, you can not have your shopping cart. And any site generally needs a form for visitor feedback.

    •    Keep them short and easily accessible, clearly noting what is required in order to submit it successfully.

    •    Supply your complete contact details including your fax number, business telephone number, postal address and your email address.

    Test your website prior to launching

    •    Test to determine if your website loads successfully in all “browsers”.

    •    Test all your links and be sure that they are working properly.

    •    Look for and be sure that your website is free from errors.

    •    Search for grammatical errors and misspelled words and correct them if any.

    •    Test your website load times.

    Web usability puts designing and planning primarily for your website visitors your top priority.  Website that measure up to the expectations of its visitors will have comfortable visitors that will visit your site again and again and recommend it to friends.

    Website Design That Can Improve Its Usability





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  • 31Jul
    Web Site Usability Comments Off

    Use Graphics Wisely to Improve Website Usability

    There can be no argument about the importance of design in attracting Internet users to a particular web site. No one would bother to explore the contents of a site if it does not contain eye-catching graphics that can please the visual sense of the users. With so many kinds of web sites existing online, it is extremely challenging to attract users and keep them interested in the site.

    But a web site developer does not simply apply graphics freely on a site. Graphics should be used in the correct manner, or else, users might get turned off because the graphics featured just overwhelmed or confused them.

    While it is true that attractive design is important for reasons that need not be explained, the choice of design must be carefully considered against the fulfilling the needs of users. When done successfully, it could be safely said that the web site has achieved its goals.

    Graphics used in the Internet is inextricably linked to multimedia. Multimedia is a combination of graphics, text, sound, and animation to express a message to users. The multimedia features that will be incorporated to a web site should be dependent on the content. In general, multimedia and graphics should serve as supports to content, and should have precise, instructional purpose.

    According to research, animated images can facilitate the transfer of learning in a positive way if it is utilized to show a vital part of the concept that is being illustrated. On the other hand, animation can serve as a barrier to user recall and performance.

    Here are the guidelines in incorporating graphics to web sites:

    1. Justify the usage of the graphics
    The most obvious problem that can be seen on web pages is the over-usage of graphics. The main downside of this is that complicated, unnecessary graphics can take a long time to download, and this, of course, will not sit well with users. The graphics to be applied should support the transfer of data and should also be in relation to the accompanying text.

    2. The difference between graphics with text-redundant data and those containing information that is non-redundant is that the former facilitates and ushers in the learning process, while the latter does not either help or slow down learning.

    3. Consistency should be a priority in graphic design

    4. Web pages should be marked up so that text will be downloaded before the graphics. In this way, the users will know immediately if the page has the information that they are looking for, and if not, they will be able to save precious waiting time knowing that they do not need that certain page.

    5. The loading of graphics should be controlled as such that loading will commence from top to bottom, and the users scrolling down the page will encounter said graphics.

    6. The downloading of pages should be fast in order to save users waiting time, and in order to reduce the chances that they will get frustrated that they will abandon plans to download. Here are several ways to achieve fast download periods:

    • -Keep the physical size of the graphics to a minimum
    • -Images should be combined in order to minimize the number of server connections. Remember, the more connections that exists, the slower the download time will be
    • -Decrease image resolution
    • -Limit the colors that will be used for the images
    • -Limit the use of animation

    Animation is very much a part of web graphic design. The primary difference between web text and graphics and contents that are print-based is the dynamics. Moving displays attract the attention of users as long as the frequency of the display is regulated. Too much animation display can irritate and distract users. An animation that is perpetually moving can destroy the readable quality of the web page.

    The usage of blinking texts should be avoided. It has long been regarded as an overused feature and the latest browsers no longer support it.

    In designing a web site, there always exists a conflict between the desire to have total control over the appearance of a page and the need to permit users to establish their own preferences. The general appearance of the page should be made by the designer, but there are certain elements that users should have control over, such as color and text background, and the option whether to display graphics or not.

    It takes a considerable amount of effort to establish and maintain the attractiveness and efficiency of a web site. If the guidelines above will be followed, all the efforts of web designers will bear desirable results. They only have to remember that the benefit of the users will always be the basis for everything.
    Use Graphics Wisely to Improve Website Usability





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  • 31Jul
    Web Site Usability Comments Off

    A Fitness Plan for a Lean & Mean Website

    In this age of instant everything, hardly anyone wants to wait. That is probably the main reasons why drive-thrus, instant messaging, one-touch photo printing and all sorts of “now” technology and products were invented and are profitable today.

    The same can be said when surfing the Internet. Recent studies conducted on Internet habits show that users get irritated when a web page takes more than 10 seconds to completely download; beyond 15 seconds, more than half leave the site entirely. That is how demanding the average Internet user is.

    Some web designers and developers would probably argue that with broadband access, download time should no longer be an issue. However, what these people fail to mention is that only 3 in 10 users in America have hi-speed access. A great majority of Internet users still surf the Internet via dial-up modems. At speed of about or below 50 kbps, web pages heavy with unnecessary baggage easily lose the race for the user’s precious attention.

    So how do you keep your website lean, mean and quick? Here are some tips:

    1. Use lean graphics.
    Graphics, even in .jpeg or .gif form will still take a while to load. But since images do enhance a website’s appearance, it is very likely you will find these necessary. However, keep the loading time for the images down by specifying the height and width attributes of your images. That way, the user’s browser will be able to map the page’s layout while the images are being loaded.

    If large images are necessary for your content, use a thumbnail a link to the bigger version of the picture. This allows the user choose what images he will wait for to load and saves him from needing to wait for those pictures he’s not interested in.
    Another nifty trick for quick-loading images is to use software that cuts up large graphic files into smaller pieces that can be put back together using a table. Software like PictureDicer (by ShoeString) or Online Image Splitter does exactly that and generates HTML code for a table tag. However, be sure to reduce 256-color images to 8-bit colors before processing the picture.

    2. Cut down on the flash intros.
    They may look nice, but they take forever to load. And if these animated presentations are at the front door of your website, you stand to lose a lot of visitors (practically half) even before they saw your actual site.

    If you simply have to have a flash introduction, please do not forget to include a “skip” button prominently displayed on the page as an option for those who don’t want to wait to load the intro.

    Another caveat that comes with flash intros is that (as of now) search engines are unable to index content on flash format. So if you intend to present most of your important information via flash presentation, you stand to lose a lot when it comes to hits from search engines.

    3. Maintain an ideal page size.

    Experts vary in opinion on what is the optimum file size for a web page. As a middle figure, somewhere between 30 to 50 KB file size (including fonts, graphics, html and JavaScript and so on) should do fine and load pretty quickly.

    4. Keep the pages as shallow as possible.
    No one wants to go through so several clicks and links before accessing the page they intend to reach. When creating your site’s over-all organization, make sure that every page can be accessed from any point within 2 clicks. (3 are ok, but it’s pushing it.)

    That said; try to keep all your pages no further down than 2 levels deep from the home page. If the site grows to have so many pages that making deeper levels is inevitable, consider creating an archive page where outdated pages may be kept for reference without causing delay to the more current content.

    Having a quick-loading page show that you value your visitors’ time. They will show their appreciation by staying longer to know what you have to say. It also enhances your company’s brand, showing that you can be efficient, but substantial.

    Paying attention to what is important and useful rather than what looks good but offers little in content will result in a website that is not only quick and lean, but usable as well. And for your target audience, that is the main and most important key.
    A Fitness Plan for a Lean & Mean Website





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  • 30Jul
    Web Site Usability Comments Off

    Making Useful Websites: Getting First-time Visitors to Come Back

    Whether it is to shop online, to book a plane ticket, to check movie schedules, or to pinpoint your current location via GPS, the Internet has become a one-stop shop for almost all the needs for daily activities – and then some.

    And yet, despite all functionality many websites offer, there are still a huge number of websites that simply do nothing but take up space, particularly on a SERP or search engine results page. What happens is that even with the most stringent of filters employed by powerful search engines, Internet users still need to wade through websites that are practically dead – dead because they offer no real information and are therefore useless.

    But should it necessarily be that way? Do functional and effective websites come into being by simply throwing money at it? Does it mean that small companies cannot produce useful and practical websites? The answer to all three questions is a resounding NO.

    With just a little bit more effort, small websites can offer just as much information, if not more, than the high profile websites maintained by media giants and conglomerates. And it doesn’t necessarily entail needing to break the bank.

    There is a fundamental rule in designing websites and that is Content is the number 1 consideration.

    You could spend a fortune on producing glitzy and flashy animation and special effects, but if your target user is not getting anything useful from the site, then all the bells and whistle will be for nothing. Remember that the Internet paved the way for the Information Highway and as such, content – useful content – is the heart of this medium.

    Just what constitutes useful content?

    When you first set out to create your website, you had to think about your target user. These vary with the kind of audience you wish to reach. Some target young people, others go for the yuppies, still there are others who wish to cater to household moms and dads. There is practically a market for everything. It’s simply a matter of identifying what to present to whom.

    Focus on Your Target Audience
    And this is where you need to do your homework: You need to focus on your target audience and determine what kind of information and content material will capture and sustain their interest.

    For example, if your target audience is women in their early retirement years, then you should probably be creating and posting content that has to do with hobbies taken up by your target market, which could be garden, golf, or maybe even both. The same applies to young teenagers if that is your target. You will most likely need to gather content about teenaged stars, fashion tips, sports news and / or the like.

    Identify Your Website’s Goals
    What should your target audience get out of visiting your website? This is the core question you need to ask to determine a website’s usability. Will it be able to answer or given solutions to problems commonly faced by your audience? The answer you should strive for that question is a big YES.

    Sourcing Your Materials
    Now that you have an idea what you want to give your website’s target audience, you need to find legitimate and reliable sources of the content you wish to present.

    Of course nothing beats writing and producing the material yourself, or hiring someone to do it, because you can claim the material is uniquely yours and you do not need to worry about copyright issues. However, should you be unable to spare the resources of producing your own website content, there are still solutions around that.

    The Internet is full of articles written by people of varied expertise, which very likely include your website’s line of interest. And the best part of it is that, very often, these articles can be published on other websites (including yours!) for free. The small trade-off is simply including the writer’s name and credentials before or after the article.

    Nifty Knick-knacks
    In addition to informative (and free) articles, there are all sorts of mini-programs (usually Java-based) that come in the form of games, quotation estimators, body fat counters, weather report update, etc.

    The idea is to give your target user more tools to use that will help them with what they need to accomplish on and with your website. Once again, you have the option of programming these yourself and making it available on your website, or you can copy a code from a third-party programmer and integrate it with your own website’s code. Very often the only trade off again is reference to the creator – which is only just right. Other more interactive elements such as surveys, quizzes and the like may be enjoyed and appreciated by your audience (especially if prizes are available afterwards).

    In providing useful content for your website’s target audience, you may not have to look very far or to pay prohibitive professional fees. All it takes is an attentive mind to what your audience wants and needs and the patience and resourcefulness of looking around and assessing what options are out there. Once you’ve got those down pat, it simply a matter of time when visitors will come by regularly and repeatedly because your site offers current and useful information.
    Making Useful Websites: Getting First-time Visitors to Come Back





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  • 30Jul
    Web Site Usability Comments Off

    Locating Links: Enhancing Website Usability

    The Internet is what it is because of connections, bridging one computer to a host of others. Because of this we are able to access information at a click of a button.

    The things we click are called links, and they can be likened to the synapses of a brain – connecting the user from one document to another.

    One of the main tenets of website design is that a page must be able to link to another page. Failure to do so renders the page dead – and is a lot like crashing into a brick wall as you speed down the information highway.

    That said, website designers, both pro and amateur, make it a point to include links into every single page they design. But it is simply more than just slapping on links anywhere. Links are as vital to a web page as the content on it for without it, a visitor will be hard pressed to connect to other documents on the Internet.

    In any website, there are different kinds of links. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to laying out links on a web page. But over time, certain conventions have emerged that seem to have become an unspoken standard in design. Deviations certainly will not depreciate a website’s over-all impact, but it may require some amount of time for the visitor to get oriented.

    Whether you tend to follow conventions or not, it is best to be acquainted first with the rules, so that you will know what to break and how to break them.

    But first of all, for the sake of clarification, imagine a website to be like a book. Of course, you know that a book holds several pages. In the case of a website, the pages are called web pages.

    A web page basically has two kinds of links: Internal and External.

    Internal links are what connect pages of the same website to each other. Going back to our book analogy, an internal link connects a page to another from the same book. So a visitor can access the contact page of a website from the home (or index) page via an internal link.

    An external link, on the other hand, connects a web page to another web page from a different website. So an external link is something like a connection between two pages from two separate books.

    Layout Conventions
    Over the years, as more and more users and websites are added to the Internet, certain conventions or assumptions about the location of links have been formed.

    The most common of which are the internal links on either the top or left margin of a page. Seeing that these two areas are the ones first noticed by a user, designers felt it was natural to place internal links that would connect the pages of the same website together. Because of the nature of its location, links on these sides of the page are prominent and graphic designs on them.

    Another area where internal links are located is at the bottom of the page, usually where the copyright information is placed. However, unlike the top and left margin areas, the links at the bottom are discreet and usually rendered in small fonts (like the copyright info). This is done primarily to avoid redundancies in design, while still providing alternate sources of links should the others fail.

    External links are usually found in the body of the text or in the right hand margins of the page. No specific rule exists for this, and the conventions arise merely out of common usage.

    However, some designers have surmised that the tendency to place external links within the body of the text is done because references to information outside the website should be described or explained, whereas internal links need little to no explanation at all.

    Another theory is that the right side feels like the outer part of page. This assumption is built on the observation that reading is done from the left to the right. So the right part of the page indicates the end of a page, thus references outside the website find themselves allocated to this area.

    For some reason as more and more text advertisements (such as Google AdSense) proliferate, the location for such external links are designated at the center or the right side of a web page.

    And yet, as mentioned before, these are merely conventions and NOT rules set in stone. Designers have all the freedom to layout information and links however they want. Deviations from such standard practices simply make the surfing experience for these websites slightly more interesting than the rest. The important thing is that connections are made and everyone can continue to cruise and surf the Web one link to one page at a time.
    Locating Links: Enhancing Website Usability





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  • 30Jul
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    Information on Websites: Moving Around, Saying a Lot, and Remembering More

    Arranging information in a website is hardly different from laying out furniture in a house. As much as you would group different kinds of furniture together in certain rooms, so would you group different kinds of information in certain pages.

    If you’re just starting out in building your own website, then this is a useful metaphor for you when it comes to positioning information effectively in your website and avoiding a confusing, unorganized mess.

    Grouping information together
    Beds, dressers and closets belong in a bedroom; kitchen appliances, cupboards and pantry shelves belong in the kitchen – you get the idea, right?

    The idea is to categorize information. You don’t want to be hopping from one page to another and back again to get a coherent set of information. You’d want them all conveniently contained in one page.

    So for example, if you sell items on your website, group these into one page. (Of course if you have a lot of items to sell, categorize them into the different kinds of products as well).

    If you maintain a website about your family or an association you’re part of, group pertinent information together. It probably won’t be helpful if you lump the family tree with the photo albums and the contact information all in one single page. That’d make for one very cluttered site.

    Typical websites have major headings or categories, which are:

    • - Home (also called index) page
    • - About Me / Us page
    • - Resources page
    • - Contact page

    A Home page should contain information that answers the question “What is this website about?” It should also display the other categories so a visitor can easily access them.

    The About Me / Us page holds information about the person or organization who owns the website. Some websites don’t have these, but it adds to reliability and attachment to the site when visitors are allowed information that lets them know more about the site’s owner.

    The Resources page holds useful and practical information for the visitor. Some resource pages also contain trivia and games, which many visitors enjoy. The resources page is usually the page that gets updated the most as resources are added or renewed. Updates on this page is usually the main reason a visitor comes back to surf the site again.

    A contact page is usually the last page to be viewed by visitor when accessing a site. It is usually done only when the visitor wishes to directly communicate with the website’s administrator and / or owner. While the information for this could have been included in the About Us page, a Contact page makes this getting information easier for the visitor. And ease in accessing information is an important factor in good website design.

    Laying Them All Out
    Now that you’ve got your categories and the information ready, now is the time to lay the information out on each page.

    First of all, it is highly recommended that you maintain a uniform layout for all your website’s major pages. This is to help the visitor orient himself quickly to your site navigate easily.

    For example, if you locate the major headings of your website at the top area of your Home page, it is best that you do the same for all the rest of the pages. Getting a different layout for each page tends to confuse the visitor.

    Hot Spots, Weak Spots
    With a uniform layout, now it’s time to begin prioritizing information. As it is with a room, a web page has choice focal points and weak spots. You should identify these areas on your web pages and lay out the information accordingly in degrees of priority.

    Even with animation and graphics, the main medium of the Internet is still text. Since this is so, applying the principles of reading when laying out information on your website will make it so that viewing each page is easy and effective.

    The English language is written (and therefore, also read) from left to right, top to bottom. The website visitor will skim the pages in this general pattern. So the information you consider the most important should ideally be located at the top left area of your web page.

    Of course, the information may not necessarily be text as it could very well be a picture. But rest assured, what will be located in the top left will get the first and therefore, freshest attention from the visitor. It would do well to present your core message in this area.

    Other information follows as the progression from left to right, top to bottom continues. However, despite this pattern, a visitor is capable to digressing from such a pattern. In fact, next to the top left area, a visitor tends to notice the left and right margins of a page. Usually, links to other pages are located in the left side of the page, while pictures or advertisements are located at the right.

    The center can either become the weakest or strongest area of a page, depending on how the other elements are laid out.

    It becomes weak when the body is uniform all throughout (as one continuous block of text or pictures). However, if the body is strategically broken up, the center of the page becomes a prime focal point and therefore may rank as the most important area next to, if not higher than, the top left area of a web page.

    While it is possible to have an endless length for a web page, it is highly discouraged. It is much preferred to have several short pages that are concise with easily seen information, rather than to have a few long ones that are crammed with text and pictures.

    As you layout the information you wish to share on your website, keep in mind convenience and practicality as would in laying out tables and chairs in a room. You will soon find that you have come up with a website that is not only informative, but memorable as well, because of how well you laid it out.
    Information on Websites: Moving Around, Saying a Lot, and Remembering More





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  • 29Jul
    Web Site Usability Comments Off

    Build Customer Relationships When Building Your Website

    E-commerce, or doing business through the Internet is certainly picking up. This may primarily be because of the ease and convenience of shopping online, not to mention the savings from a significantly lower overhead compared to brick-and-mortar stores.

    However, regardless of the benefits of e-commerce, why is it that traditional brick-and-mortar stores are still around and seem to grow instead of decline?

    One major reason could be because these kinds of stores still represent and hold a significantly higher degree of security to the consumer as compared to a website. The sense of permanence, familiarity and reliability that a physical location holds is what brings customers back to the store.

    While online businesses cannot compete with the physical assurance brick-and-mortars have, web-based enterprises can still develop a degree of familiarity with their customers that fosters a relationship of trust and reliability. And majority of this is built around the design of a website.

    The One Unchanging Principle: Think Like Your Customer
    Whether your business has a physical or virtual location, one principle in building relationships with your customers remains – and this is to think like them.

    The more successful businesses have prospered because they have made their customers’ mindset their own. For traditional businesses, it meant everything from convenienctly locating goods to offering ready and credible assistance.

    Successful websites should follow suit. With the lack of tangible contact, a potential customer could have little basis for forming a relationship with an online store. And if building customer loyalty is your goal, then suitable substitutes must be found.

    Looks and feels familiar
    First impressions last. As soon as a visitor clicks on a link to your site, he expects to see something that he will like, and therefore trust.

    Take an online garden supply store for an example. A cut and dry layout of columns and rows, with little to no pictures won’t give the visitor the impression he has accessed a gardening store. Not a lot of hits would result, much less in sales.

    However, if that same site was built to look like a garden shed, for example, the customer might feel more at home with shopping there because the look of the site used a familiar concept with the customer and incorporated it into the over-all look and feel of the website.

    Being able to capture and retain your visitor’s attention is the first step in converting a visit into a sale and eventually working towards a strong business relationship.

    Ready Assistance and Assurance
    A customer appreciates a ready source of help and information when he or she is shopping. So again, thinking like a customer, find ways where a visitor can access answers to common questions about your products. This could be in the form of a prominent FAQ page or a concise product description alongside a picture.

    It helps to strategically locate short but strong testimonials from satisfied customers among your products so visitors can see right away the reliability of the service and goods you provide.

    Safe and Secure
    While familiarity and assurances of reliable service is great in building customer relationship and loyalty, the bedrock of any relationship is trust. So place a good deal of emphasis on this.

    Almost all business and financial transactions over the Internet are now performed over a 128-bit encryption system. So settle for nothing less than this. It will also help to prominently display this information on your payment and sales confirmation page to assure your customers this measure of security.

    Build on the Relationship
    The beginnings of a lasting relationship start from a good first impression. Hopefully, the look of the website has drawn your visitor in comfortably enough to make them want to purchase something from you for the first time. Once they have done so, it is still well within your control to assure that that first transaction will lead to many more.

    You can do this through a number of ways, the most common of which is to thank the customer for purchasing from you and to assure them of your products’ warranties (if any apply).

    Offer your customers useful tips and information on a resource page so they can visit you again, even if to purchase is not the primary intention. Most online transactions require an email address to be submitted so invite the customer to subscribe to your e-newsletter (if you have one). You may offer perks and / or discounts if they do subscribe. However, to avoid being labeled as spam, make sure the material is clearly solicited for and is sent in timely manner.

    About the best indicator of loyalty is when your customer sees you as an expert in your line of business. Aim to be this through your website and your customers will begin to see you as more than just a supplier, but a trusted consultant.

    By taking the necessary steps with your website in cultivating familiarity and trust with your customers, results will be reflected not only in your sales but with your customer relationships as well.
    Build Customer Relationships When Building Your Website





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  • 29Jul
    Web Site Usability Comments Off

    The Role of Page Length in Website Usability

    The Internet has provided us with new ways of doing things such as communicating, gathering information and making business transactions. Websites form the backbone of the Internet. They are primarily created to be able to serve as a tool for people to live their lives in this modern world.

    The use of Internet application is very important especially to the people who have impairments. 20% of the American population is affected by some kind of disability. The Internet has been able to give the disabled avenues through which they can perform functions that they have not been able to do before.

    Usability

    The usability of websites is one of the pressing concerns of web developers today. Usability refers to the easiness of navigation and overall access of information through a website. Websites are now being developed to be able to provide maximum usability to the widest range of surfers. A website’s features must be able to assist the surfers rather than be hindrances.

    There are many perceived benefits from improving the usability of a website. Not only will the surfers, particularly those who have some kind of impairment but also the web developers, the businessmen and the whole Internet community as well.
    Improved website usability will result in end-user satisfaction. A survey which involved people who were trying to avail certain services and products from the Internet revealed that 39% of all availing attempts are spoiled because the buyers are discouraged by the poor usability of the website. Improving the website will definitely end in user satisfaction.

    Usability will also result in the competitiveness of the website. There are millions of websites that are out there today, and the number is growing faster than ever before. What separates the popular ones from the not-so-popular ones is website usability. People want to access information through websites and they are particularly looking for two basic features: quality of content and access. There’s no sense in designing a website with poor information. Poor access tools will also make a website not likable even though it contains well written contents.

    Page Length

    There are many factors in determining the usability of a website. A website with good usability will have quality contents, good accessibility, navigation and readability. The length of the pages might seem like an impertinent thing when it comes to usability, but it is actually a factor to consider in website development.

    The Internet browser is like a portal which takes people to wherever they may want to go in the virtual world of the Internet. This is why the length of the web page is important. The pages must be designed in a way that they accommodate and present the information to the visitors in a comprehensive way which is easy on the eyes.

    Short versus Long

    When it comes to determining the length of the page, it all boils down to a simple yet important decision- whether to use short or long pages. In determining this, one should always remember that the length of the web pages may not be uniform. The length of each page must correspond to its contents and its purpose.

    In determining the length of the page, one must consider the following:

    1) Contents

    Again, the length of the page is dependent on its contents. The homepage which contains the overview of the webpage utilize short pages most of the time. Pages which contain information which can be easily be browsed should also utilize short pages. Pages containing long graphics should be put in short pages as well.

    If the page contains information that need to match the size of its paper counterparts, the said web page must be long enough to do so. Sitemaps and other such pages must be long enough to accommodate all the information needed.

    2) Go back to the goals

    The overall determination of the length of the web pages must be structured within the whole planning process for the development of the website.

    3) Scrolling

    A developer can choose between providing a scroll bar or a page link in developing pages which contain reading materials. If speed is deemed as a key factor in the reading process, the developer might want to use a link instead of a scroll bar.

    These are just some basic ways on how to improve a website’s usability with the proper determination of the web pages. These should be integrated with the other ways of improving website usability.
    The Role of Page Length in Website Usability





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  • 29Jul
    Web Site Usability Comments Off

    Website Usability through Navigation Design

    Navigating through a website should be simple and efficient. Navigation is one of the key determinants of a website’s usability.

    Usability refers to the ease of use and learning with regards to websites. It can refer to the effectiveness and quickness of the navigation structure of the website to be able to present pertinent information to the surfers.

    The Issue of Usability

    Usability is deemed to be very important in terms of web development today. Websites are made with the intention of making them tools for people in doing their daily tasks. Developing complex websites which don’t assist people in effectively doing their tasks would make little sense.

    People with disabilities are continuing to grow in number. In the United States alone, one-fifth of the population is pestered by some kind of disability. This is the main reason why many people are gearing towards making websites more usable. The Internet has become a main instrument for these people to be able to live their lives.

    Navigation

    The usability of a website is dependent on several different factors such as accessibility, content quality and readability and over-all presentation, however, many web developers would say that the usability of a website is all about navigation.

    This article tries to lay down some basic tips which should guide a developer on how to make a website more usable through the improvement of its navigational structure.

    Here are some tips on how to make a website’s navigation more user-friendly:

    • -Avoidance of irrelevant links

    One of the main mistakes of web developers in building websites is that they add more confusion to the visitor rather than eliminate it. This is the result of putting too much links that are not really needed by the visitors.

    Having too many links to the other parts of the website is clearly an indication that the navigational structure of the website is not at its best. Let’s examine a hypothetical website so as to give us a way to discuss the different things to avoid and do in designing a website’s navigation structure. Let’s say that we are building a public auction site (one similar to E-bay).

    If a surfer would want to buy computer accessories, the website should not contain irrelevant links to other parts of the website such as putting a direct link towards the section on buying clothes. If the said person is interested in buying clothes after he has shopped for the computer accessories that he needs, he will definitely find his way to the clothes section. Putting these kinds of links will irritate more people than satisfy more people. It’s like putting a section of computer accessories and a section of clothing right beside each other in a department store-it makes no sense.

    • -Standardize icons

    A study has revealed that 39% of shoppers didn’t pursue in buying certain items from the Internet because they found the sites to be too hard to navigate. This meant a lot of loss for the businesses, but this can be avoided.

    One of the ways to improve navigation is to use standardized icons for linking pages. Icons were made to be able to represent something that is related to it. The use of random icons will definitely add up to the confusion regarding navigation. Also, developers shouldn’t over-explain the icon because icons are there to be able to provide non-text information about the link. A brief explanation should be provided, but it should be kept brief and concise.

    • -Sitemap

    The provision of a sitemap will definitely help people to effectively navigate through the website. A sitemap provides a skeleton structure of the website in a single page. All the links and contents are indicated in a sitemap therefore making navigation a much easier process.

    • -Breadcrumbs

    Breadcrumb links provide linkage to the major pages of a website. These are particularly useful for people because they give easy access to the major pages.

    • -Avoid burying information

    Navigating through a website need not be a journey through an ocean. A simple rule of thumb is that all the web pages in the website should be accessible from each other not more than 3 clicks away.

    These are just some of the ways on how to improve the usability of a website through the improvement of navigation. These steps should be done hand-in-hand with the other ways of improving a website’s usability.
    Website Usability through Navigation Design





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  • 29Jul
    Web Site Usability Comments Off

    Arranging a Website Menu for Better Usability

    The issue of website usability is one of the main topics today in web development. There are many moves regarding the push of web development to accommodate a wider range of visitors.

    Different sectors of society have taken their initiative in terms of improving their websites to be able to make them more user-friendly. The government has taken legal steps to be able to realize laws which intend to make websites more usable. The different institutions which are involved in education, information awareness and public services are also moving towards usability. The business sector is also moving towards the same goal because they rely on generating and maintaining traffic. Studies have found out that usability is directly correlated with the desire of people to come back to a certain website. 74% of people consider usability as one of their main considerations for coming back to a website. Making a business website more usable will also give a company a good image.

    Context

    The main reason why there are moves towards improving the usability of websites is that a big chunk of Internet users are impaired with some kind of disability. In fact, around 20% of the whole American population has some kind of disability. With this situation in mind, the Internet is deemed as an important tool in providing services and opportunities to these people. The Internet has become an avenue for communication, information dissemination and gathering for these people.

    Usability Factors

    There are a lot of factors to consider when developing a user-centered website. These factors can be grouped in different ways and can be tested by different means. Listed below are some of these factors:

    1) Accessibility

    The usability of a website is dependent and intertwined with its accessibility. Accessibility refers to the quickness and easiness of gathering information from the website.

    2) Download time

    Nobody likes a website which takes too long to load. Many people would actually prefer a basic-looking website which loads quickly than a beautiful website which takes minutes to load.

    3) Feedback Mechanisms

    Websites should be able to provide avenues which can be used by its users to give feedback. Feedback gathering is very important in assessing and improving a website.

    4) Navigation

    Navigational links should be provided and placed properly all through out the website to guide the users on how to effectively gather the information that they need from the website.

    There are other details that need attention when it comes to optimizing the usability of a website. This article tries to tackle one of them which is- menu arrangement. The menu is a basic tool which surfers use to be able to get from one web page to another and to track their navigation.

    Here are some useful tips in arranging the menu of a website.

    1) Go back to the goals

    One should ask what the main goals of the website are to be able to determine the right links to put in the menu bar. The menu’s basic function should be connected with the main goal of the website. A website which is offering an array of products might want to put the different categories of the products in the menu bar.

    2) Important pages

    The menu bar should highlight all the pages which contain pertinent information regarding the purpose of the website. The contents of the menu bar should be carefully chosen so as to maximize its limited space.

    3) Cohesion

    Items should be placed in the menu in a cohesive manner. It’s basically a choice which involves the right placement of items so as to give proper guidance to the users.

    4) Fonts

    The users should be able to customize the size of the fonts of the entire website. The fonts that are places in the menu should not be too small or too big. Using a different font for the menu can be done under the premise that they do not deviate too much from the other fonts.

    Menu arrangement is just a speck in the whole idea of website usability. The tips above are just basic ways of modifying the menu so as to provide maximum guidance to the users and must be seen in the context of the whole picture. The other aspects of usability should be given attention to be able to develop a user-centered website.
    Arranging a Website Menu for Better Usability





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