5 Traps to Avoid in Creating a Great Website (Part 2)
Matcha Design - Tuesday, March 22, 2011
A couple weeks ago I detailed some things that can keep your website from living up to its potential. In part 2, I focus heavily on user interaction, highlighting some common problems that are usually a result of focusing priority on the wrong goals (i.e. anything that conflicts with helping your users find what they're looking for.)
Pleasing Google or W3C instead of your visitors
SEO is important. Good code is important. But how many people find your site, and how well formed your code is, won't matter if your site is complicated or annoying to use. You may get lots of clickthroughs, but you won't get many conversions.
Generally speaking, the main navigational area should stay the same throughout your whole site. A category-specific navigational area on subpages isn't a bad idea either, for sites of any significant size. If I see navigation to Home, Products, About Us, and Contact pages on the home page, then on the Products page I can't find Contact again, there's a problem.
Lack of clarity
If a user can't figure out what your company or organization does after spending about five seconds on your site, they're going to leave. If your name doesn't make it obvious, your content should (and actually your content should either way.) You can save your life story for the About Us page, for those who care to read it, but your primary purpose (selling t-shirts, making music, saving starving children in Africa, building houses, etc) should be plainly obvious to anyone immediately.
Users have a general understanding of how things tend to work on the web. Things that look like buttons and underlined text should both be links. Mousing over something should not result in changing the primary content of the page, it should take a click to do that. Additionally, things that aren't ads shouldn't look like ads, because they will largely be ignored.
Buried or missing information
The stuff your users want to know should be plainly visible or easy to find. Maybe your product has a lot of minute details and putting them all up front doesn't make sense. That's okay. But the important ones that most people want to know should be up front and obvious. This doesn't include a bullet list of completely non-informative fluff like "It's really great" or "Everyone loves it." For products, price, main features, and (if applicable) system requirements should be easy to find.
About Matcha Design
Matcha Design is a full-service creative agency specializing in web design, print, identity, branding, interface design, video production, still photography and motion design. Using our passion for excellence, multi-cultural background, and award winning practices, we consistently provide high-quality, custom, innovative solutions to meet the diverse marketing needs of our clients. For more information, visit www.MatchaDesign.com.