Greetings & Salutations
My name is Wilson Revehl, Co-founder, CTO, and Vice-President of Go Media. When William Beachy and I founded the firm in 2003, merging our respective freelance businesses, I would not have imagined we’d become a publisher. And lord knows I haven’t done much to advance that cause. Jeff Finley, our first principle partner, deserves most of the credit for advancing our readership. The last time I wrote a Zine article was in 2007, about Flash, which has since become irrelevant.
Usability fundamentals of modern website design
Months after we launched a brand-new site design for our client, they returned. They wanted a new homepage. They were a market-savvy bunch who had tracked visitor click-through and retention. The idea was to alter the layout to rev up visitor engagement. I wholeheartedly endorsed the endeavor.
An organization who has the means and is willing to test differing user experiences will find that it offers constructive insight into their marketplace. However, most small businesses don’t have the budget to refresh their website design or layout whenever they want. That is why it’s crucial to design a thoughtful website user experience the first time.
Here, we’ll cover some usability basics for modern websites. The goal is to show you pragmatic dos & don’ts to ensure you’re taking advantage of best practices and conventions.
The Navigation System
No, we’re not talking about your GPS. But you might glean some perspective from the consumer products all around you. Long before the internet (or GPS) was mainstream, industrial designers had been honing and advancing user interfaces for manual operation. Whether it was the car stereo or the VCR, they recognized that comprehensive controls were pivotal in making their products viable. Things are starting to come full circle (who knew?!) with the advent of touchscreen and the desire to develop & design responsive websites for displays of various device types. The new norm will soon be conforming your site for display on car stereos! Until then, let’s focus on what you need to consider today to create a compelling website navigation system.
Use conventional placement
Why? Humans are creatures of habit. There is a reason you see top-of-the-screen navigation on the majority of websites. It is functional because people read from the top down. It is effective because it communicates a lot across a wide piece of real estate without hogging it up. Logically, you can’t go wrong with a menu at the screen’s top because people are looking for it up there by default.
No design works unless it embodies ideas that are held common by the people for whom the object is intended.
- Adrian Forty
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