The Top 6 Usability Mistakes that can take your Website Down Blog
Website visitors are some of the most impatient people on the planet. They don’t like waiting and they love sites that don’t take their time for granted. So, all websites, including your own, should just try and get the job done as quickly as possible. This is only possible by ensuring your website is able to meet the highest standards of usability. It’s important to understand here, that a high degree of usability is determined by how the users perceive the website’s user friendliness and not how you, as the website owner, will identify with it.
So, it’s important to avoid those cardinal mistakes that are going to bring the usability of the website crashing down. The popularity and success of your site is directly proportional to its usability and indirectly proportional to its non-usability
Let’ take a look at the usability disasters that need to be avoided at all costs.
Presenting Content through Pop-Ups
The idea for using pop-ups for presenting content is the product of a highly creative mind, but not a mind that values usability. Think about it? Just how many times have you opened a website and found that a popup blocker has prevented pop-ups from appearing on the screen and you need to turn it off, in order to view the pop-ups. Now, imagine the main content of your website, the single most important persuasive element on your site, appearing in a pop up. Doesn’t sound like a good idea, does it? Users are not going to appreciate the fact that in order to view site content, they need to de-active the popup blocker first.
Another mistake is not getting rid of permalinks that aren’t taking your website visitors anywhere. This problem usually occurs if the structure of the website has been reorganized or it has been moved to another domain; and developers forget redirecting or getting rid of dead permalinks. In order to ensure that this mistake does not occur, astute developers make use of URL redirection, commonly known as ‘301 redirection’. The use of this technique enables a developer to redirect the users to the new page when users click on the dead permalink. The funny thing is, in spite of there being a solution to the problem of dead permalinks, developers still forget about them and users end up seeing a 404 error page when they click on these links. As can be imagined, it’s a big turn off and users prefer going to some other site that is better designed and less likely to waste their time.
Drop-Down Menus are Unwise
I know this one is going to make you sit up and take notice. With most websites making a no holds barred use of drop down menus, your surprise and disbelief is natural. But the reality is that developers only offer drop down menus because it helps save vertical space. They really aren’t worried about the usability aspect. They have conditioned website visitors into believing that they are a good idea and we accept them as such. But try and evaluate your own response to this menu when you are using it. Don’t you find it time consuming, don’t you get irritated by the fact that your mouse needs to precisely point to a name of the section or category that you want to visit. What’s more, don’t you feel frustrated if the length of the navigation item in the drop-down menu forces you to move the mouse horizontally? Don’t worry; quite a number of people feel this way, meaning such menus are definitely not usable. But, they still keep getting used.
It seems even designers have begun to believe that they are a good idea.
Cannot scan content
There is no beating good copy, if you want to make an impression on your website visitor. But, if you think that visitors are going to read everything that you have written on your site, you are wrong. As mentioned before, website visitors have very little patience and just go through the content in a cursory manner. They only look at the interesting parts of the content, and ignore the rest. So, the structure of your content must be such that they are able to scan it and separate the important parts from the insignificant ones. You can achieve this by highlighting the content that you think will elicit a positive response from your website’s visitors. Using larger fonts, headings, catchphrases, bullets and color contrasts can be a great of way of focusing attention on specific parts of the content. You can even think about using images next to the content to help it stand out. Not making your content scannable will only pull it down; this in turn will bring your website down.
Using inordinately bright images, that also blink
Say you desperately want a visitor to click on a certain image. What do you do, well there are plenty of things you can do, but what you mustn’t do is that you shouldn’t make it blink. All blinking images do is act as an irritant and distract the user from the website’s message. Users aren’t able to focus their attention on reading the text that is right next to the blinking images. Think about it for a second. Imagine you come across a site that has images, which blink constantly. What will be your reaction?….. Irritation. What’s more, such images will also distract you from going through the site properly and getting information that you need. This might result in you making a misinformed decision. You wouldn’t like that would you? The ground rule is that blinking images must be avoided at all costs in websites and in the event that they are absolutely necessary; they must be used in moderation. Otherwise say goodbye to the usability of the website.
Ignoring Web Design Conventions
Surprisingly, even the best web designers can be accused of giving full vent to their imagination in the form of reworking existing conventions to enhance the website’s creative quotient. This is a cardinal mistake as its only conventions that help improve the user experience of a site. Website visitors have come to expect that the logo will usually be found on the top left corner; while search will be available on the top right, clickable buttons will have subtle bevels and so on and so forth. Your website design needs to cater to these preconceptions otherwise visitors are going to be disappointed. Yes, there is no beating original design, but it is able to accomplish the same, within the boundaries of widely accepted and expected designing conventions. It’s ok for your clickable links to be blue as is the norm, because a clickable link with a red underline might just be construed wrongly by the user.
I will be honest with you, there is nothing like a top 6 or top ten usability mistakes. Each mistake is as detrimental to the usability of the website as the other. But let me try and explain this by referring to the classic line from George Orwell’s “ Animal Farm” – All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”; no mistake is good, but some are worse than others. Avoiding these mistakes is an absolute must if you don’t want a website that is a disaster when it comes to usability.…