Is Your Site User Friendly?

One of the most common mistakes a web designer can make is creating a website that is impossible to navigate. We’ll highlight some of the most common problem areas and offer solutions that can be easily implemented.

1. Reliance entirely on graphics for menus.

This is an error you’ll see on many different sites. If you are relying entirely on a graphical menu, you may be leaving some of your visitors with no way to traverse your site. If your graphics do not load, or if your visitor has turned image loading off, trying to find out where to click can be a chore. This is also a problem if you are trying to make your site compatible for speech readers.

Solution: Make a text only navigation menu for your site, or offer an easy to find site map where your visitors can find what they are looking for. If you do use images, make sure to add alternate text so that speech readers will be able to “see” what the images are for.

2. Complicated Navigation Options

If your site is large and offers several different content areas, your navigation menu can continue to grow until it is out of control. This presents visitors to your website with too many choices, and they may miss what they need to see. A common problem in this area is using a menu to link to each and every piece of content on your site.

Solution: Group like content into specific subject groups and link to the subject group in your navigation menu. For example, if your site has articles about apples, oranges and watches, you could group all the articles about apples and oranges into a “fruit” category and create another category for watches.

3. Reliance on Java Menus

Not all browsers can process Java menus correctly. Although more of the well-known browsers are now offering support for Java, your visitor may not have the latest plug-in on their computer. This can mean that your navigation menu will not load, or may be so slow to load that your visitor leaves, unable to find anything.

Solution: If you are going to put a Java menu on your site, make sure that it works on a variety of different browsers. Always offer an alternative text menu that all browsers will be able to use. If you’re set on using a cool menu interface, try to find one in a different programming language that more browsers will support, or get creative with a combination of images and text, making sure to use alternative text, to create your own navigation system.

Your site should be fun to use, uncomplicated and easy to read. By implementing these suggestions, you can ensure that the majority of internet users will be able to utilize your site to its fullest potential.

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Posted on 02/26/06 8:49 PM

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