Many web design professionals tend to forget that not every visitor will enter through the front door. There are millions of site pages that are effectively a dead end. These pages may have content, but absolutely no links to send the visitor back to the home page nor does the page provide a clue as to the purpose and function of the website.
If a site visitor finds a link to your website through a search engine and lands on a page without navigation capabilities it is likely your site will be abandoned as they search for something more ‘complete’.
It is important that each page on your website feature a means of determining what your site is for, what you offer and how to get from one place to the next. If you have pages that are dead ends the chances diminish that your site will be as useful to customers as you want it to be.
Many sites are built with a front door mentality. In this scenario the home page is expected to be the landing pad for all visitors. In truth, search engines rank all site pages making it possible for a visitor to come into your site through a page other than the home page. Sure, you’re happy they came, but you have to give them a map to your site so they can really find what they need. In many cases this is done with a site map or common navigation links on all pages.
Another common web design faux pas is to burden your pages with high-resolution images and data. Most visitors will give your web page one-tenth of a second to begin downloading – if it takes too long to download the site visitor will likely move on.
There have been numerous sites I have visited that insist on placing midi music on each web page. This ‘gift’ increases download time and can be rather annoying if you happen to be listening to other desired online media.
I know the intent is to provide something unique for the site visitor, but as more audio is streamed over the internet, the less interested we become in self-loading audio. The primary distraction is the lengthy download times these pages require.
The rule of thumb is to make every page navigable and quickly downloadable. These elements of web design can make an incredible difference in the usability of your web site.
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