Navigation controls are the main navigation links; they allow users to move around the site.
Whether they comprise images or text they should be predictably located in the same place,
and with the same appearance, on each page.
These have several purposes
- To allow users to move about within the site
- To tell users what information is available at the link
- To work with location indicators to orientate users
A good navigation control:
Is clear: it looks like navigation Leads to obvious content –
users have a good idea what they will find if they click
- Is consistent with other navigation controls
- Is predictable in its style and location on the page
There is no mystery to usability. It simply involves creating a site, which is accessible
to the majority of people, is easy to use and get around and delivers on its promises.
You can have a site that meets the most important standards of usability by planning it
well and always keeping the end user in mind. Remember that websites should
not be designed for their owners – they should be designed for their users. Problems with
usability could be said to stem from just two sources: the site itself and the user. In fact, the
site is always at fault if a visitor (however experienced or inexperienced) has problems
navigating, getting information or understanding the site. While websites have become
far more complex, web users have become less experienced because more and more new
people go online every day. It is a mistake to think that the majority of users will
be web or even computer savvy and will understand subtle clues about content. Many won’t,
so make your site as easy to use as possible.
Defining a Usable Site
A usable site will: Help users achieve a goal, usually to find something, such
as information, or obtain something, such as a book.
- Make it easy for them to achieve that goal
- Make it possible to achieve the goal quickly
- Make achieving that goal a pleasant experience
A site will be generally usable if:
- The content is good and relevant
- The content is easy to find
- The content can be found quickly
- The page is pleasant to look at and cleanly designed
Good Content is Critical
A site with good content, regardless of its subject, is one that provides products or
information that is useful or beneficial to users. A good usable site will make it clear
what information or content is available and at what price AND what is not available.
A good usable site should define clearly all subscription packages offered.
Ease of Access to Information
Good navigation, precise location indicators, secondary navigation, clear linked text and
a well-organized structure all contribute to making information easy to find for a wide
range of different users. Bearing in mind that many users are inexperienced, it may be
necessary to include explanations of things you consider self-explanatory.
For example, an inexperienced user may need an explanation of how to use a drop down menu.
Remember, make it as easy as possible for people to use your website.
Quick Access to Information
This is the aim of the majority of web users. It can be broken into
two important aspects: Speed of Page Loading This requires, in particular, attention to
images to ensure they are properly optimized and do not excessively delay load time. It may also
mean breaking up long articles and ensuring that important content is at the top of the page where it will
Speed of Access to Content
This is where the 3-click rule comes in – no important content should be more than 3 clicks from the
home page. Some standards even say that it should be no more than two clicks.
One helpful way to speed access to content is to consider each type of user, select the content that they
are most likely to be interested in and create links from the home page to one piece of
content for each group. This will get them quickly to the appropriate part of the site.
Cleanly Designed Pages
Cleanly designed pages are pleasant to look at and easy to read. It is almost impossible to make a site
with an image shown as a tiled background usable – the whole thing is too distracting and confusing.
It takes no great design skills to create clean pages; it just requires thought and adherence to the principle
that when it comes to design, less usually is more.
Most paid membership websites are limited to online access and information download
rather than selling products. There should be clear download instructions provided. Your website should
also state the size of the file in kilobytes and the estimated time of download for
a user having a Modern modem, fiber optic Cable and so on.
While for large commercial sites investment in full-scale usability studies may be essential,
few small sites can afford such luxuries. However, identifying problems with usability for your
site need be no more complicated than asking a few (honest) friends to act as
guinea pigs on your site and, if possible, watching them silently as they do this. Watching users
try to find information at your site can be both instructive and quite surprising.
Remember that if at any stage you feel the urge to intervene and explain, then you have identified a
usability problem. List of the Most Common Usability Problems
The site does not state its purpose clearly Java applets, huge images, banner ads or flashy elements
slow down loading; 10 seconds is about as long as the
average user will wait for a page. The site requires specific software to be used. Have you ever actually
changed browsers or downloaded a piece of software just to see a site? Poor navigation,
too little navigation, too much navigation and, not uncommonly, no navigation at all
Bad design leading to poor readability Discomfort due to ugly design or inconsistent design.
Almost always because a designer overestimated their skills. Irrelevance of content – for example the
business site that includes biographies and photos of each of the board members.
Happy egos on the board; bored website visitors! Complexity or excessive originality of design, which
requires users to learn how it works in order to use it. Inaccessibility because the site cannot be used by
browsers for people with disabilities.