Know Your Users
Babyboomer and older users like to
take linear navigational routes to information, i.e., static lists of links.
The typical E-Generation users like quick, nonlinear routes
(quick drop-down boxes, clickable image maps). They are too impatient to read
a list of links.
If your target users include both, try to include both forms of
navigation on your site
Know Their Mannerisms
Users do not read web pages as they do books
and even less than they read a newspaper. They tend to quickly browse or skim
the page for bold text or links that may seem to lead them to their destination.
Remember, that large amounts of links should be subdivided down into main categories
and then into smaller categories.
Users feel more comfortable and stay longer on pages that identify with
themselves. Therefore, identify your target user, use pictures of them, use
their language, identify their likes and dislikes.
Identify yourself to the users. Bring some personal touches
into your pages to relate to the user who you are and how you relate
to them. Show pictures of what your company/college looks like along
with the people they may see there. A website without pictures
is like listening to a computer generated message on the phone;
no personal connection. Pictures of buildings alone are too impersonal.
Know Their Eye/Hand Movements
The normal flow of browsing a web page is
from the top, left side to the bottom right. Therefore, any important information
on a page should be located in the top, left corner., i.e., your logo.
Eye movement generally moves through the largest text first, bold
or brightly colored text next, then to normal text last. Long lines of text
are harder to read than short lines. Like a newspaper, keep your long text
in an easy to read narrow column(s) about 30-70 characters long.
Users navigate a website according to established navigations on other
sites. Like driving a car, they get used to controls in specific areas. Major
navigation aids should be on the top or left, or both. Alternate links are kept
at the bottom of the page. General e-mail addresses are kept at the bottom of
Do not underline your text. Users associate underlined text
on a web page as being a link.
Don't lead them to a dead-end. Many users may come into your page
from a search engine, not directly from your home page. So, it's important
that they know what site their on and how to get to the home page from your
Make sure if you're leading your user through a process that you also lead
them to the solution. For instance a sentence "Complete Immunization Form"
would leave the questions of "who completes" and "where do I get this form
- web, email, office?". Use the basic "who", "what", "where"
question tests and link every question to its solution.
Know Their Lingo
Users don't know your company's/college's department structure. They
will look for links that apply to their vocabulary. So, for instance if you
have a link to your job openings, a link to "Employment" or "Jobs"
will be better suited than "Personnel Department" or "Human Resources".
Keep it simple. Use simple words in your text and for your links. Difficult
or vague words are not easily understood by international users or new visitors.
Write using the vocabulary your target users understand.
Be clear and concise in your content. Bring important
information to the top of your page. Emphasize or bold important
Know Their Abilities/Disabilities
Some people's solutions may be other's problems. If you want a lot of
bells and whistles on your pages to impress your savvy users, make sure to also
include an optional link to the same page rendered in simple text. Those using
text-to-speech browsers will find these pages extremely helpful
Test your pages on every browser available. Although every option
won't work in every browser, make sure that important information is accessible.
Identify your target browsers to develop your pages. Ours are Internet Explorer (IE) 6.0, IE 7.0, and Firefox 1.5 at the present time. Then, develop your pages to those targeted browsers.
But, before final posting, test your pages on a Mac, and other browsers to
iron out the bugs. Note: Macs will display text 2 to 3 times smaller than
css style sheet. More information on style sheets...
Use plug-ins with caution. Make sure that plug-ins that you include in your pages are necessary. Test your pages on computers that don't have the plug-ins installed to see how they handle the page. If it creates a hassle for the user to download, install, restart, etc, -- forget it!