Web Design: Is Your Website User Friendly?

It is important to pay attention to little details that make the site easier to use by visitors. Sometimes small details make the difference, and the user likes our site better than other sites, just because he feels comfortable navigating it, and finds what he wants easily. Of course, it depends on the audience you expect for your website. For instance, if you have a website for professional designers, then you do not need to keep it that simple. Users will find their way and probably enjoy that sophisticated and strange menu system that is a piece of art. But if you expect a general audience, it is better to keep things nice and simple. The site usage should be intuitive. This is a list of several aspects you should consider:

· Let the user adjust the font size, avoid using fixed font sizes in your stylesheet. If you use fixed fonts, at least make them big enough so they can be read by people with sight problems.

· Make the forms clear and avoid crowded pages. Insert text hints when necessary so users always know what they have to input in each field. You may also use a small help icon next to the form field that users can press to get a pop-up with more information about the field usage.

· If you use menus, make sure they are easy to use. It is better if they are not too sophisticated if the site is for a general audience.

· Use the ALT and TITLE attributes in images. This will also help you with positioning your site in search engines.

· Make sure the site content is easy to access. This means that you placed the pages in the logical menus or submenus. Try to think as the user would think. You may ask someone else to use the site and give you feedback, since it is hard to realize if content is easy to access for others.

· Minimize the number of clicks to get to destination pages. Try not to nest pages inside menus, then submenu, then submenu … .Two or three levels should be enough for most cases.

· Contact Us page should be accessible from all pages. Include a form in the page so users can send you comments. If they found trouble using the site, they will probably tell you and you can fix the problem for future users. It is also a good idea to include a “Comments about this website” link in all pages footer so users can send a message to the webmaster.

· Choose the colors wisely. Different color schemas may help identify different areas of the site, for example.

· Make sure text is easily readable. Do not use too similar colors for text color and background.

· If you have long pages, insert Back to Top links in the page body.

· Keep design consistent throughout the site. This also helps you define an identity for your website.

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