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Common Sense Mistakes in Websites – Part 2

Too Much Text

One of the main mistakes I have noticed with clients attempting to update their own websites is they simply have too much to say about their organisation.  In general web users can be a lazy bunch, and do not wish to waste their time scrolling endless text.  Most users like to be able to skim text and jump to the section of text of interest.  When users open a page and are confronted with reams of text they may quickly lose interest and leave the page before being able to find the information they were looking for.  As a rule of thumb try to limit your text so users do not have to scroll to read.  Keep things short, interesting and cut the unnecessary waffle.

Improve the navigation and skimability (newly invented word) of your text by breaking your information into easier to manage chunks.  Use clever headers to attract the user’s attention to the area of relevance to them.  In the event that you just cannot cut out any more information it may be worth adding a read more button after a short intro to keep your body of text tidy.

Text Colour

I have come across many sites in the past which have been great to look at but have failed completely when it comes to usability, by making their text difficult to read.  Contrast is key and substituting design over functionality when it comes to text is not a good idea.  Too many times designers use images behind text or a bright background with bright text or dull on dark.  Design is always important but not at the cost of giving your users a headache while trying to read your site.  In general it is good practise to use a white background with black text, but other colours may be used provided common sense is used and there is a good contrast been text and background.  Many site designers use the most modern hi res monitors on the market which make just about anything look good however they seem to forget about the everyday users with their glare on screen, low res, poor colour quality monitors.

Menu Placement and Design

As designers become more and more creative with menu design sometimes it is important to remember that you do not only want your site to look good but also want it to be easy for your visitors to use.  When the majority of internet users visit a site their eyes automatically look to certain parts of their screen where they expect to see certain elements and for menus that is usually along the top of their screen or down the left.  Navigation is a very important element in the usability of your website as it is key to helping your users find what they need on your site and the quicker and easier you make it for them the more chance you have of facilitating their goals before they lose interest.  For this reason, it is important that you limit the number of links in your menu and keep your use of over complicated dropdown menus to a minimum.

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