If your site is easy for your visitors to use they
will find the information they are looking for, feel confident moving
around your site and stay to look around.
If your site is difficult to use your visitors will fail to find
what they are looking for, feel uncomfortable and probably leave
your site quite quickly.
Fitting the small screen
A monitor screen isn't a piece of paper. Over hundreds of years
paper pages have evolved to a universal tall and narrow format.
Along comes the computer and all that is thrown out in favour of
short and wide. For easier reading your pages should be laid out
to shape text in to taller and narrower areas. Fitting your navigation
links into a tall narrow column down one side of the page helps.
Your web designer will probably demonstrate your new site on a large,
high resolution, state of the art monitor. With the growth in the
popularity of laptops, pda's and internet connected mobile phones,
as well as people using legacy equipment, your visitors may well
be viewing your site through a much small and lower resolution window.
Check that your site still works.
People don't like scrolling down through text so avoid making
them. Break text into separate pages once it needs more than two
page down clicks to reach the bottom.
Help them keep their place by breaking text into short paragraphs
with whitespace between them and by giving each paragraph a heading.
Below the fold
The lower part of a web page, the bit that isn't displayed when
the page first loads, is said to be below the fold -
a newspaper term for stories on the lower part of the front page
and so not visible on the newsvendors display. People make decisions
about whether to scroll down or to go elsewhere on on the basis
of what they see above the fold. The visible copy should
make clear what joys are hiding lower down the page.
Your visitors will have come to your site to find out about your
practice, not to spend time working out how to get from page to
page. All the links on your site, including those in the text, should
have the same appearance. You don't have to follow the accepted
standard of underlined and blue so long as your choice stands out
from the rest of your text You could just underline all links
so long as no other text in underlined.
Keep the main navigation links in the same place, in the same order
and in the same style. You want to make people comfortable as they
use your site and an important part of this is for them to know
where they are and where they are going. If you keep swiveling the
signposts they lose confidence.
Page bottom navigation
If visitors have to scroll your main navigation links off the top
of the screen to read your content you should either repeat the
links at the bottom of the page or provide a link to take them back
to the top.
© Vetlist Ltd 2004
If your main navigation links aren't text based if they are
based on images or scripted effects then you should provide
a text only alternative for visitors who have those effects turned
off. Some of the latest ways to access the internet pda's
or mobile phones for instance have limited abilities to display
some of these web page technologies.
We welcome your comments, criticism and questions.
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