One of the more frustrating problems in navigating websites is the amount of usability mistakes commonly found. Usability problems can not only frustrate visitors but also make a website inaccessible for some people. Web content that looks fine in one web browser may appear unreadable in another web browser. Web developers can learn to avoid such problems by first being aware of usability design and the errors that often occur.
Some of the most troublesome usability problems include poor navigational menus, poor image implementation, poor formatting, and even a lack of readability.
Poor site navigation
A site should be easy to follow, and use appropriate navigational bars or buttons that clearly link to each part of the site. Each page should link back to a central home page. One method that makes a site easier to navigate is to display a brief site map with the current page in correlation to the main page.
Using non contrasting colors can make text difficult to read. High contrasting colors likewise can also be difficult to read for those with color blindness. You should keep font size and general font readability in mind as well.
Poor image implementation
Use images in correlation to the text content. Avoid overusing images on a web page. Provide text descriptions of all images and links. Some visitors may not see the images for different reasons.
A poorly formatted web page can be rendered very differently in different web browsers. Some web browsers may display the page correctly while others may display an unreadable mess. Some users may use different resolutions that make some web pages formatted for a specific resolution display incorrectly.
Lack of accessibility options
Many sites are beginning to offer accessibility options for users that need assistance. Some people may require voice readers to read out web content aloud, while others may need special input devices to navigate a website. A website with images that do not have text descriptors may not be usable by such users. Using text descriptions and underlying links around images can help such users have more accessibility options.
Websites should be tested in different web browsers to ensure better compatibility. Even basic websites should be checked to display properly in the most common web browsers.
Overuse of multimedia without other viewing options
Overusing multimedia implementations such as Flash can render a site un-viewable by some. Some sites may not work if a web browser is not Flash compatible. One example is Internet Explorer 64-bit, which does not have a Flash plugin at this time. Web developers should think about offering an alternative page with no Flash or multimedia content if possible.
Use too much text
Overusing text on a page can make the page appear difficult to read for some users. Some visitors may simply find the page too taxing to read and leave the site. Break apart text into blocks and insert page breaks if needed.
Lack of page anchors
A web page or site that lacks anchors will be more difficult to navigate or use. Using anchors allows visitors to move to different sections of the site quickly and easily. Each anchor link should be clearly labeled to avoid confusion.
Avoid overusing ads
While many sites use ads for revenue to cover costs, they can also detract from the web experience. Some visitors may find too many ads to be difficult to maneuver around.
These ten usability problems can be found on many websites, both professionally and non professionally designed. Web developers that are aware of such usability problems can be better prepared to avoid usability issues down the road. Designing a website that limits these types of usability problems can be easier than redoing a pre-existing website already developed.
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