Recent Blog Entries
Is My Site User-Friendly?
Entry posted on Dec 30 by
A question that should keep every site owner awake at night, worried whether heâ€™s on the right track. Yet the reality is somewhat different.
First things first, what does â€œuser-friendlyâ€ mean exactly? Letâ€™s take a look at some definitions online:
- Adjective: easy to familiarize oneself with, understand, and use.
- Easy to operate, understand, or deal with.
- Refers to anything that makes it easier for novices to use a computer.
Those are basic definitions of the term, and they all revolve around one main concept; making it easy to use and understand. It applies to cars, machinery, computers, software, and, of course, websites.
What makes a website user-friendly? Letâ€™s think about the concept without getting into technical details. Anyone owning a website through which they provide a service to users should make everything in their power to make the userâ€™s visit to the website as pleasant as possible. A pleasant experience at a store may be offering flowers to the customers, maybe free samples, or testing the product before buying it.
The web however is much more constricting, there are no changing rooms to try on clothes before buying them, there is no polite salesperson assisting you, and consequently, a website user is much more demanding, intolerant, and unforgiving. If heâ€™s not going to find the service, information, or product heâ€™s looking for, heâ€™s simply not coming back to your website.
The concepts of usability are more available and known to web development houses with every passing day, as many experts, books, and websites are available for reference. And you will notice that theyâ€™re all based on one simple idea: easy to use by the user. Not the business owner. Not competition. The user.
A business owner is immersed in his field 24/7. He knows it like the back of his hand. The user, however, may know nothing at all about it, yet heâ€™s seeking a service at this website. Thatâ€™s why we have to make his visit as pleasant and easy to comprehend as possible, to help him find his way without assistance, and come back again.
But websites donâ€™t all have the same users. Every website provides a different service, and accordingly, has a different user. We cannot address Disney websiteâ€™s user the same way we address BBC websiteâ€™s user.
So when weâ€™re building a website, one of our key priorities is to identify our user-base. The siteâ€™s design concept, colors, layout, navigation and labeling vocabulary, and logic will greatly vary depending on the user browsing it.
A news website user is on the site to read news, not to play games, or to admire a cool flash component with swirling colors and shapes. Heâ€™s got a specific purpose; keeping up to date with the world. Donâ€™t waste his time with useless distractions, or else heâ€™ll go to another website to find his news. Or worse, heâ€™ll just pick up a newspaper if he has to!
A football fan checking his favorite clubâ€™s website doesnâ€™t want to read a 10,000 word article about his teamâ€™s feelings during the game. Heâ€™s a visual person who watches football games, words are not his forte. He wants concise and straight-to-the-point information, displayed in a visually attractive format to make him proud (or not) of his team.
An intranet user doesnâ€™t want to dig out a 5th level page to perform a daily task. He wants the easiest way possible to get his work done efficiently.
Examples can go on and on, but the key point remains the same: know your user, know his needs, look at your site through his eyes, and youâ€™ll be half-way done designing a user-friendly website.
1-1 of 1
Lido Ghali on Is My Site User-Friendly?
04/04/09: I wrote before:
A typical web user is an impatient person sitting behind the screen, waiting for a specific data to appear, taking most of the time decisions depending on ranking and keywords used, o