Whether you are designing a few landing pages for your small business web site or a corporate web site with hundreds of pages, the way you design a web site directly affects the ability of people to use the web site. The overall appeal of your web design influences a person’s likelihood to come back and visit again. If you are in the business of selling a product or service to your users, whether users return to the site is a pivotal concern.
Here are some questions to consider as you strive to build a site that meets user needs and embodies your vision for this important web domain.
1. Have I chosen the most logical and intuitive design for how web pages are accessed from the site’s home page? You have to think about this question from the perspective of multiple users. As with every aspect of the site, your best bet is to take friends or strangers with no expertise in the subject covered by the web site and prevail upon them to test the web design. Based on the feedback you get from testers, you will be able to critically evaluate the web design. The next step is to decide how changing the design will resolve the most issues brought up by the site testers.
2. Have I put icons or links in places where people will find the most important web pages they seek? On every site, some pages will consistently receive the most traffic. You have to find a way to get people to the most important web pages quickly so that they won’t have to click too many times before losing interest and moving on to another site. Because you can only include so many topics on the menu bar without cluttering it, try layering pages in a logical fashion so that the most important topics are one click away from the main page.
3. Is there a better way for users to understand the conceptual model that helps them to navigate effectively? Depending on the topic of your web site, you may be forced to construct a very complex design. Some web designers find it necessary to construct a page explaining the site design, including key web posts and other clues that cue users where to click for certain kinds of information. If you choose this type of page, ensure that it is clear and simple. You don’t want to confuse users more than you help them. If users can rely upon their own conceptual model without explanation, you don’t need an explanation page.
The web designer has endless ways to link pages effectively for the convenience of site users. Once you have established your priorities for the site design, proceed with a design that meets as many of your objectives as possible while appealing to the instincts and needs of users. Keeping the user in mind requires a delicate balance. Your best bet is to get as much user feedback as possible before going live for the first time.