Web Site Design and Usability - Get from point A to point B

User Testing

Guy testing websiteA nifty concept that seems like a no brainer. Have regular people test a web site. You'd be surprised how many web design companies don't even bother. They are the professionals right? They know how it works. That nifty little concept is the difference between a visitor picking up the phone to call you, or clicking back in the Google search bar for another business.

User testing can bring to the forefront the mistakes that are not so obvious to the developers, but are obvious to the user.



While testing Blue Water Hot Deals (a coupon web site) I actually stood behind a user while they were surfing through the site. What we originally did was put a "Get Coupon" button right underneath the actual coupon, so when the user clicks "Get Coupon" it takes them to the coupon. Well, as I studied the user's movements, she decided to go to one of the coupons. She clicked once, twice, three times... nothing....and then moved her hand around in such a way and clicked again hoping to get better results, but still nothing! She was clicking ON the coupon itself and never even looked at the "Get Coupon" button! We didn't attach a link to the actual coupon. Seemed sooo obvious to me that there's a button there, but hey, I built it right? I immediately put links on all the coupons as well as kept the button for aesthetics.

How would that have gone over if I were to launch the site that way? I don't even want to know.

Simple solution to a potential disaster because we went through the trouble of user testing.... actually it was no trouble at all, but paid great dividends.

"Whether reinventing the wheel or not, is yet another wheel really what you want to end up with? Objective: Articulate purpose and context to gain perspective on the real problems and genuine solutions.

Context is worth 50 I.Q. points. Solving the systemic causes of symptomatic problems is priceless. Objective: Creating a project which identifies and supports the most valuable parts of the solution on the way to deliverables."

John Soellner, Design Crux

Whether they are simple or complex problems, they need to be solved. If they aren't solved, then objectives are not met.

Navigating - A lost art

compassEver take a canoe down a winding river? Besides the fact that it's fun and relaxing, you really don't have to steer a whole lot. We treat navigation in web site design in much the same way. We don't want the visitor to have to steer their mouse all over the screen to get where they want to go. This goes back to user testing and where users expect things to be. There needs to be an even flow within the site and each page should have the same "main" navigation to create familiarity from page to page.


A neat, clean house

We like things to have an overall neat and tidy look. Some designers will put 90% of the navigation on the home page thinking visitors will have access to everything from the home page. Well that's fine and dandy until you have more than 10 or 20 pages. Otherwise the confusion and lost factors will set in within the first 10 seconds. They will leave almost immediately.

There is a technique used to get an overall look at a web page and that's from a distance, with a slight blur. Take the following examples:


Messy looking website

This is a perfect example of a cluttered web site which has no direction and no even flow. Heck we can't even see the main navigation.


Clean looking websiteThis is a great example of a structured site, even flow with main navigation. Your eyes are automatically looking at the navigation or maybe the picture box,
which is in close
proximity to the main nav.

A confused user is a non sale.