Improve the Usability of Your Website

Website Usability

No matter how brilliant your website design is, if it is hard to reach the content of your site then your site is as useful as an empty shell. Here are some tips to improve the usability of your website to ensure it serves its functions optimally.

The first method is to make sure the typography of your content is suitable. If you have large blocks of text, make sure to use CSS to space out the lines accordingly. The longer a single line of text is, the greater the line-height of each line should be. Also, make sure the font size of your text is big enough to read easily. Some sites have 10-pixel-tall text in Verdana font; while that may look neat and tidy, you have to really strain your eyes to read the actual text.

Make it easy for visitors to find content that they want on your site. If you have thousands of articles on your site and a certain visitor wants to find one single article from that pile, you have to provide a feasible means to enable visitors to do that without hassle. Be it an SQL-driven database search engine or just a glossary or index of articles that you have, providing such a feature will make sure your visitors can use your site with ease.

Ensure that your site loads fast if you do not want to lose visitors. Most internet users will leave a website if it doesn’t load completely within 15 seconds, so make sure the crème de la crème of your website is delivered to the visitors as soon as possible to retain their attention.

Last of all, test each and every link on your site before it goes online. There is nothing more effective in tarnishing your professional image than broken links, so be very careful about that.

Know Your Audience

Know Your Audience

Understanding the type of people who visit your site is a very important task because you can use that information to enhance your site to suit them. As a result, you will gain more loyal returning visitors that come back again and again for more.

What is the age level and what kind of knowledge does your audience have? A layman might linger around a general site on gardening, but a professional botanist might turn his nose at the very same site. Similarly, a regular person will leave a site filled with astronomy abstracts but a well-educated university graduate will find that site interesting.

Take your audience’s emotional state into consideration when building your site. If a very irritated visitor searches for a solution and comes across your site, you will want to make sure you offer the solution right up front and sell or promote your product to him second. In this way, the visitor will put his trust in you for offering the solution to his problems and is more likely to buy your product when you offer it to him after that.

When you design the layout for your site, you have to take into account the characteristics of your audience. Are they old or young people? Are they looking for trends or are they just looking for information served without any icing on the cake? For example, introducing a new, exciting game with a simple, straightforward black text against white background page will definitely turn prospects away. Make sure your design suits your site’s general theme.

Try to sprinkle colloquial language in your sites sparingly where you see fit and you will create a sense that your audience is on common ground with you. This in turn builds a trusting relationship between you and your audience, which will come in useful should you want to market a product to your audience.

Reducing Load Time Through Image Optimization

Image Optimization

Even though more and more Internet users switch to broadband every year, a large portion of the web’s population is still running on slow connections. It is therefore unwise to count them out of the equation when you’re designing your website, and a very major consideration we have to make is the loading time of your website.

Generally, all the text on your website will be loaded in a very short time even on a dialup connection. The culprit of slow-loading sites is mainly large images on your website, and it is very important to strike a delicate balance between using just enough images to attract your users and not to bog down the overall loading time of your site.

You should also go to a greater length and optimize every image on your site to make sure it loads in the least time possible. What I really mean is to use image editing software to remove unnecessary information on your images, and thereby effectively reducing the file size of your image without affecting its appearance.

If you own Photoshop, it will be obvious to you that when you save an image as a JPEG file, a dialog box appears and lets you choose the “quality” of the JPEG image — normally a setting of 8 to 10 is good enough as it will preserve the quality of your image while saving it at a small file size. If you do not have Photoshop, there are many free image compressors online that you can download and use to reduce your image’s file size.

On the other hand, you can opt to save your images in PNG format to get the best quality at the least file size. You can also save your images in GIF format — the image editing software clips away all the color information not used in your image, hence giving you the smallest file size possible. However, saving in GIF format will often compromise the appearance of your image, so make your choice wisely!

How Photos Can Improve Your Website Design

Web Design Photography

Images are a powerful way to deliver any message, but to get the most out of images and photos on your website you have to use careful thought and consideration. Visual appeal is a crucial aspect of any site, and carefully placed images can help to enhance your visitors experience, reinforce a news story, help with your branding, as well as potentially increase conversions on your site.

What are Your Goals?
Good photo’s are crucial to web design and can become great sales tools if used in the right way, but placing images without any purpose, to fill bare space for example, will not benefit your site in any way as studies find that users ignore images that are irrelevant to a page’s content. Great website design caters to the needs of the user, so whether your sites’ visitors are looking for news, entertainment or to transact with you, each page on your site needs to have a clear purpose and should only have relevant, supporting images if necessary.

You can use simple checks such as whether the image helps to convey your message, how your visitors may respond to the image, and whether the image relates to your brand or services to sift out suitable photo’s to use in your website design.

Providing Information
Most online users tend to want to get what they are looking for quickly, and website photography is a useful and fast way of providing information if done properly. Sometimes the adage ‘less is more’ is true in an age where content is king, but content does not have to be waffle, sometimes website photography conveying your message to prospective clients can be more effective. For example, you can choose images that create an emotional appeal between your visitors and services, or concentrate on showing exactly what the benefits of using your products are, to potentially increase your conversion rates. Always ensure that any images you use complement the web design of your site, are easy on the eye and match the style of images elsewhere on your site to create an identity.

Use Real People to Tell Your Story
Nowadays people want to know more about where and how products they use are sourced, as well as the ethos and the people behind the businesses whose services they are using. Website photography has evolved from just being images of products on sale to become powerful tools that provide a connection between users and service providers. Use behind the scene photo’s, pictures of your stock or of how your products are made, as well as staff photo shoots to keep your users updated while creating a relationship through conveying your company’s ethos and keeping your web design and content frequently updated.

Images that use real people to illustrate a concept are priceless, if you can use an image to answer a user’s questions about your products and services, you’re on the right path to good web design.

Conclusion
Using photo’s effectively for better web design means you can convey your message to your visitors quickly and effectively, while carefully selected images and pictures will provide a better user experience and enhance the design of your site. Using the above information will guide you on how you can achieve better web design using photos.

5 Important Rules in Website Design

Website Design Rules

When it comes to your website, extra attention should be paid to every minute detail to make sure it performs optimally to serve its purpose. Here are five important rules of thumb to observe to make sure your website performs well.

1) Do not use splash pages

Splash pages are the first pages you see when you arrive at a website. They normally have a very beautiful image with words like “welcome” or “click here to enter”. In fact, they are just that — pretty vases with no real purpose. Do not let your visitors have a reason to click on the “back” button! Give them the value of your site up front without the splash page.

2) Do not use excessive banner advertisements

Even the least net savvy people have trained themselves to ignore banner advertisements so you will be wasting valuable website real estate. Instead, provide more valuable content and weave relevant affiliate links into your content, and let your visitors feel that they want to buy instead of being pushed to buy.

3) Have a simple and clear navigation

You have to provide a simple and very straightforward navigation menu so that even a young child will know how to use it. Stay away from complicated Flash based menus or multi-tiered dropdown menus. If your visitors don’t know how to navigate, they will leave your site.

4) Have a clear indication of where the user is

When visitors are deeply engrossed in browsing your site, you will want to make sure they know which part of the site they are in at that moment. That way, they will be able to browse relevant information or navigate to any section of the site easily. Don’t confuse your visitors because confusion means “abandon ship”!

5) Avoid using audio on your site

If your visitor is going to stay a long time at your site, reading your content, you will want to make sure they’re not annoyed by some audio looping on and on your website. If you insist on adding audio, make sure they have some control over it — volume or muting controls would work fine.

Good Design Practices

Good Website Design

Your website is where your business resides — it’s like the headquarters of an offline company. Hence, it is important to practice good design principles to make sure your site reaches out to the maximum number of visitors and sells to as many people as possible.

Make sure you have clear directions on the navigation of your website. The navigation menu should be uncluttered and concise so that visitors know how to navigate around your website without confusion.

Reduce the number of images on your website. They make your site load very slowly and more often than not they are very unnecessary. If you think any image is essential on your site, make sure you optimize them using image editing programs so that they have a minimum file size.

Keep your text paragraphs at a reasonable length. If a paragraph is too long, you should split it into separate paragraphs so that the text blocks will not be too big. This is important because a block of text that is too large will deter visitors from reading your content.

Make sure your website complies with web standards at www.w3.org and make sure they are cross-browser compatible. If your website looks great in Internet Explorer but breaks horribly in Firefox and Opera, you will lose out on a lot of prospective visitors.

Avoid using scripting languages on your site unless it is absolutely necessary. Use scripting languages to handle or manipulate data, not to create visual effects on your website. Heavy scripts will slow down the loading time of your site and even crash some browsers. Also, scripts are not supported across all browsers, so some visitors might miss important information because of that.

Use CSS to style your page content because it saves a lot of work by styling all elements on your website in one go.