Quality of personal use in web design, is very important. Our generation has taken a big leap forward in technology and most of our parents and grandparents struggle with the changes of the web. As designers, we all want our users to go through our work without asking many questions on how to use it. This is why we test our work before putting it out right away.
Some grandparents use Facebook and most of my family uses it. Facebook has made many changes since I have been on it and some of them are unnecessary.
Two weeks ago in my Types & Travels class, our professor brought up websites and asked what important qualities a site must have. Usability was the first response. He even said he had issues with the news feed Facebook added and that the rearrangement of the page layout was frustrating (1). Facebook is a great social tool, but some of its changes are pointless and users are making that known.
We, the designers, seem to know the main issues of web usability, but for those who do not know much about web design, here are the top 5 issues:
1. Content: "When you open your page in a browser, what do you see? If you've created a usable Web site, you should see 80-90% what your customer is looking for. However, with most Web sites (yes, this site is no exception), usually what your customer is looking for only constitutes between 50-60% or less of the main portion of the page. The rest is ads, confusing navigation, and extraneous graphics."
2. Page Layout: "Closely related to content is how that content is displayed on the page. While studies have shown that people are willing to scroll to read through Web pages, if they don't find relevant content quickly, they will be more likely to leave. Keep your pages clean and simple. Try removing elements, and see if your page needs them, if the page functions without them - take them out."
3. Colors: "Colors can affect the usability of your Web site. Web browsers have standard colors that are used for links (blue for links, violet for visited links, and red for active links). When you use other colors, you run the risk of confusing your customers. Also, colors of other elements of your page can affect your readers. For example, color blind customers might not recognize color coded images."
4. HTML: "The version-specific elements of HTML will automatically exclude some of your visitors. The only way to be absolutely usable is to limit yourself to HTML 1.0. According to Jakob Nielsen, "it will be a year before the majority of users will even be able to access your fancy use of new technology." The best solution is to avoid beta-level technology until it has been in use for at least one year."
5. Download Speed: "Access to the Internet may be getting faster, but that doesn't mean that Web pages should get bigger. In fact, Web usability studies continue to show that the speed a page downloads is very important. After 10 seconds, your customer has lost interest in your page, no matter how interested they were in the topic. You can't control all aspects of the download - so it's important to do what you can" (2)
The importance of how a website functions and is presented is huge and if you want your customers to return to your site, follow these simple steps. If they can't use your site, they will not stay.
Bad websites will help you avoid creating your own bad site. Here's a link to get you started: http://www.manolith.com/2009/08/25/worst-website-designs/
(1) Bill Moran - Types & Travels Discussion - 4/16/2010
(2) Top 5 Most Important Web Usability Issues
(3) 20 of the Worst Designed Websites In the World