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Custom Website Design » Useability
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Custom Website Design

June 1, 2007

Website Useability: Does Optimal Website Design Exist?

Filed under: Design, Useability — BILZ @ 12:24 am

When talking about design across-the-board, it’s harder to define what is the best based on a singular standard, as compared to deciding which is more aesthetically pleasing than the other. After all, like most human creations, there may be no exact definition or standard to define or embody perfect design at any cost, especially given the subjective perspective by which each individual may look upon any object.

However, there is such a thing coined by many as optimal web design. Optimal, by virtue of its definition alone, already means the most favorable or desired form of any particular subject. This then translates to what is optimal web design which is web design that best suits the tastes of the greater majority, while at the same time working within the feasibility constraints of any undertaking.

What then makes web design optimal? Web design is optimal when it seeks to provide maximum utility to users while providing business or operational viability. In this way, the designer is able to best provide for the demand of both the end consumers as well as the people who plan and conceptualize for the purpose of deriving profit.

Putting the end users in mind is another means in order to emphasize what’s in every web designer’s mind friendlier usability for each and every user. This means taking into consideration the fact that people visit websites in order to find particular content; therefore, it is imperative that the content must always take the precedence over any other accents and extraneous designs or artwork.

The more effective web designers are not afraid to make use of white backgrounds, or generally very clean lines in their website. By limiting the use of unrelated pictures that may even cause loading the page to take longer, and adding in very integral elements like the title and an outline of the contents of the page, it brings attention back to the content over anything else.

Pictures, unless completely necessary, should be used sparingly. When it would take longer than usual to load due to the size or the volume of pictures, it is recommended to forewarn users so that they may opt out of viewing pictures and instead proceed to seeking content they need. Moreover, advertisements and their placements, when possible, must be planned so that while they will serve their purpose, they will also in no way cause distraction or distaste to the visitors of the website.

Moreover, navigation is made consistent and simple in order to make accessing content as simple and as easy as possible. After all, who’s to say if everyone who surfs the Internet have the same capacities to grasp and decipher navigational tactics and the like.

Integrate into the design a means through which each and every visitor may have access to basic information about the website and its proponents (usually in the ‘About’ page), as well as a means of access to the privacy statement of the company. After all, the latter has played a big role in building or inversely destroying many relationships on the Internet.

An additional means in order to have an optimal web design is by using rudimentary conventions in web design; like making clear buttons, describing links accurately, and displaying links in the conventional blue. In this manner, the website will accommodate even the older users without the same sort of grounding with the use of the computer, and will make sure that users have the least amount of trouble in just trying to access a design.

However, there are also particular selling points that will assure marketability and will reflect business viability to its necessary degree. First and foremost, aesthetic design and code design are very much limited by the resources made available by the company. It is also important that the website has the capacity to meld in with the strategies undertaken by the company.

The first consideration in the optimal business viability of a website are the limitations experienced and set in order to create it. This includes the limitations on space, the domain address, as well as the terms and conditions that a company would have to sign in order to enlist services.

Moreover, optimal web design when it comes to business applications when the website is able to integrate itself to all the collective efforts, like marketing strategies and the like, of any company hoping to gain an edge through the Internet. This means that in the end, while aesthetics play an important role, creating an optimal web design is still one that best accommodates without alienation its users, sponsors, and web design planners.

May 31, 2007

Website Useability: The Role Of Page Length

Filed under: Design, Useability — BILZ @ 6:20 pm

The Internet has provided us with new ways of doing things such as communicating, gathering information and making business transactions. Websites form the backbone of the Internet. They are primarily created to be able to serve as a tool for people to live their lives in this modern world.

The use of Internet application is very important especially to the people who have impairments. 20% of the American population is affected by some kind of disability. The Internet has been able to give the disabled avenues through which they can perform functions that they have not been able to do before.

Usability

The usability of websites is one of the pressing concerns of web developers today. Usability refers to the easiness of navigation and overall access of information through a website. Websites are now being developed to be able to provide maximum usability to the widest range of surfers. A website’s features must be able to assist the surfers rather than be hindrances.

There are many perceived benefits from improving the usability of a website. Not only will the surfers, particularly those who have some kind of impairment but also the web developers, the businessmen and the whole Internet community as well.
Improved website usability will result in end-user satisfaction. A survey which involved people who were trying to avail certain services and products from the Internet revealed that 39% of all availing attempts are spoiled because the buyers are discouraged by the poor usability of the website. Improving the website will definitely end in user satisfaction.

Usability will also result in the competitiveness of the website. There are millions of websites that are out there today, and the number is growing faster than ever before. What separates the popular ones from the not-so-popular ones is website usability. People want to access information through websites and they are particularly looking for two basic features: quality of content and access. There’s no sense in designing a website with poor information. Poor access tools will also make a website not likable even though it contains well written contents.

Page Length

There are many factors in determining the usability of a website. A website with good usability will have quality contents, good accessibility, navigation and readability. The length of the pages might seem like an impertinent thing when it comes to usability, but it is actually a factor to consider in website development.

The Internet browser is like a portal which takes people to wherever they may want to go in the virtual world of the Internet. This is why the length of the web page is important. The pages must be designed in a way that they accommodate and present the information to the visitors in a comprehensive way which is easy on the eyes.

Short versus Long

When it comes to determining the length of the page, it all boils down to a simple yet important decision- whether to use short or long pages. In determining this, one should always remember that the length of the web pages may not be uniform. The length of each page must correspond to its contents and its purpose.

In determining the length of the page, one must consider the following:

1) Contents

Again, the length of the page is dependent on its contents. The homepage which contains the overview of the webpage utilize short pages most of the time. Pages which contain information which can be easily be browsed should also utilize short pages. Pages containing long graphics should be put in short pages as well.

If the page contains information that need to match the size of its paper counterparts, the said web page must be long enough to do so. Sitemaps and other such pages must be long enough to accommodate all the information needed.

2) Go back to the goals

The overall determination of the length of the web pages must be structured within the whole planning process for the development of the website.

3) Scrolling

A developer can choose between providing a scroll bar or a page link in developing pages which contain reading materials. If speed is deemed as a key factor in the reading process, the developer might want to use a link instead of a scroll bar.

These are just some basic ways on how to improve a website’s usability with the proper determination of the web pages. These should be integrated with the other ways of improving website usability.

Website Interface and Useability Design

Filed under: Design, Useability — BILZ @ 6:19 pm

Usability study normally precedes the interface and technical design of the website construction process, which involves establishment of complete user profiles, creation of the interface model or sample and extensive user testing.

The ideal web interface design demands for organized approach in the designing process. However, to guarantee optimal performance, web usability testing is needed. This domain testing allows inexperienced users to supply data regarding what really is working, as have been expected and then what is not working. Only as soon as the subsequent repairs are constructed and done can a website be considered to achieve optimized user interface.

This procedure, though in several cases takes a few repetitions, provide the necessary and important information and evidence for the finished web interface functionality and design, resulting in a website interface that conveys clear messages to visitors, regarding where they actually are, easily predict what is about to happen as well as where buttons will take them and what they need to do to accomplish their goals. The ease and simplicity of all these activity is what defines a usable website.

The experience of the user is the main factor to acceptance; this is where interface design comes in the designing process. Whereas product engineers give emphasis on technology, specialists in website usability concentrate on user interface.

The significance of a great interface user design is the driving force of a product’s acceptance or rejection.

If visitors have hard time learning and using, a complicated website, even an excellent product can fail. Interface design must make your product simple to use and understand, so that it results to user acceptance.

Here are guidelines for creating website usability:

System status. Your system must always update users regarding what is happening, through correct feedback within a reasonable time.

Simple words. Make sure that your website speaks the language of your visitors, having phrases or words familiar to them. Construct information that appears in a most natural tone and in consistent order.

User freedom and control. Note that internet users at times encounter mistakes in system functions and need an “emergency exit” in order to easily leave that undesirable situation. Support in your system “undo and redo”.

Consistency. Visitors must not need to question whether different situations, words or actions represent the similar things. Follow platform principles or guidelines.

Retrievable instructions. Making actions, options and objects visible and easily retrievable. Your visitors do not need to remember certain information from a particular part of a dialogue “to another”.

Efficiency and flexibility of use. Use accelerators to speed up interaction between experts and the system. Construct it in such manner you’re your system is able to cater both the experienced and inexperienced users. Permit users to customize frequent actions.

Users help. Display error messages in plain and simple language that accurately indicate what the problem is and then propose a solution.

User interface and design principles:

1. Structure. Your web design must establish user interface persistently, in useful and meaningful ways that are based on consistent and clear models easily recognizable; put all related and similar things together.

2. Simplicity. Design your website simply, making common tasks easy to do, clearly communicating in the language of the user, and providing shortcuts that meaningfully are related to those longer procedures.

3. Visibility. Design your website that it keeps all materials and options visible without disrupting your visitors with redundant or extraneous information. Never overwhelm your visitors with too much alternatives.

4. Feedback. Your design must keep your visitors well informed of certain actions, changes of condition, errors or certain exceptions which are of interest and relevant to them through concise and clear language.

5. Tolerance. Your design must be tolerant at the same time flexible, reducing misuse and mistakes by permitting “undo and redo”. Likewise prevent errors from occurring by accepting different sequences and inputs by translating all logical actions.

How your website interface is designed either makes or breaks your business. Although website functionality is a significant factor, the manner by which it imparts that functionality or user performance is likewise as important. A website that is hard to manage will not be used at all. Period.

Use Of Graphic Design To Increase Website Useability

Filed under: Design, Graphics, Useability — BILZ @ 6:18 pm

There can be no argument about the importance of design in attracting Internet users to a particular web site. No one would bother to explore the contents of a site if it does not contain eye-catching graphics that can please the visual sense of the users. With so many kinds of web sites existing online, it is extremely challenging to attract users and keep them interested in the site.

But a web site developer does not simply apply graphics freely on a site. Graphics should be used in the correct manner, or else, users might get turned off because the graphics featured just overwhelmed or confused them.

While it is true that attractive design is important for reasons that need not be explained, the choice of design must be carefully considered against the fulfilling the needs of users. When done successfully, it could be safely said that the web site has achieved its goals.

Graphics used in the Internet is inextricably linked to multimedia. Multimedia is a combination of graphics, text, sound, and animation to express a message to users. The multimedia features that will be incorporated to a web site should be dependent on the content. In general, multimedia and graphics should serve as supports to content, and should have precise, instructional purpose.

According to research, animated images can facilitate the transfer of learning in a positive way if it is utilized to show a vital part of the concept that is being illustrated. On the other hand, animation can serve as a barrier to user recall and performance.

Here are the guidelines in incorporating graphics to web sites:

1. Justify the usage of the graphics
The most obvious problem that can be seen on web pages is the over-usage of graphics. The main downside of this is that complicated, unnecessary graphics can take a long time to download, and this, of course, will not sit well with users. The graphics to be applied should support the transfer of data and should also be in relation to the accompanying text.

2. The difference between graphics with text-redundant data and those containing information that is non-redundant is that the former facilitates and ushers in the learning process, while the latter does not either help or slow down learning.

3. Consistency should be a priority in graphic design

4. Web pages should be marked up so that text will be downloaded before the graphics. In this way, the users will know immediately if the page has the information that they are looking for, and if not, they will be able to save precious waiting time knowing that they do not need that certain page.

5. The loading of graphics should be controlled as such that loading will commence from top to bottom, and the users scrolling down the page will encounter said graphics.

6. The downloading of pages should be fast in order to save users waiting time, and in order to reduce the chances that they will get frustrated that they will abandon plans to download. Here are several ways to achieve fast download periods:

-Keep the physical size of the graphics to a minimum
-Images should be combined in order to minimize the number of server connections. Remember, the more connections that exists, the slower the download time will be
-Decrease image resolution
-Limit the colors that will be used for the images
-Limit the use of animation

Animation is very much a part of web graphic design. The primary difference between web text and graphics and contents that are print-based is the dynamics. Moving displays attract the attention of users as long as the frequency of the display is regulated. Too much animation display can irritate and distract users. An animation that is perpetually moving can destroy the readable quality of the web page.

The usage of blinking texts should be avoided. It has long been regarded as an overused feature and the latest browsers no longer support it.

In designing a web site, there always exists a conflict between the desire to have total control over the appearance of a page and the need to permit users to establish their own preferences. The general appearance of the page should be made by the designer, but there are certain elements that users should have control over, such as color and text background, and the option whether to display graphics or not.

It takes a considerable amount of effort to establish and maintain the attractiveness and efficiency of a web site. If the guidelines above will be followed, all the efforts of web designers will bear desirable results. They only have to remember that the benefit of the users will always be the basis for everything.

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