Why do so many websites still suck?
Having no formal training in web design my opinions might be dismissed as the musings of another uninformed madman. I am, however, a frequent user of websites I am of the opinion that the vast majority of websites really suck in both the design and usability departments. Given that we are already a decade into website development and have many wonderful examples to borrow from, why do so many people insist on creating difficult to use and badly designed websites?
Here are my 10 basic rules for designing a website:
- More White Space: What's with all the clutter? Give us the basics please and lose the unnecessary crap (Ecademy could learn from this one).
- It's Not About You: Please remove you company's self-congratulating diatribe on the home page and give us what we came for
- Contextual Help: If I'm having doubt about what to do next please provide me with help embedded in that page. I don't want to search through a 100 page FAQ section looking for a solution to my shopping cart problem. If you make me do this I will abandon my visit, for good.
- Simple not stupid: Make getting things done on your site easy for new visitors to do but don't be so condescending that it feels like you're treating me like a child.
- Now Please: Nobody likes to wait. Make the process fast and give the users what they want now. I recently visited an ecommerce site that required me to download an order form, fill it out by hand, and then fax it back to them. They would then call me back for my credit card details. I'm sorry this is not going to work.
- Create Action Steps: Creating a great site where prospects can "hang around" used to be called sticky. Now we call it painful. Get them in and out fast. This will ensure they are happy when they leave and that gets them coming back again and again.
- Sh*t Happens: Design your site with the assumption that thing might go wrong. Provide explanations and alternatives when things do.
- Create Useful Navigation Before Pretty Pictures: How many of you have spent 20 hours pondering the logo and home page image but only given 15 seconds to the navigation layout. This is your bread and butter. Get this done correctly from the beginning and then come back and fix the designs.
- Iterate: Don't search for perfect. Get it up and then make small changes every week to improve the site.
- Little Changes Make Quantum Leaps: Consider this for a second. Let's say you have 100 customers each spending $100 at least once a year on your site. If you made small improvements to your site that effectively increased the frequency of purchases, total value of the purchases and the total number of customers by only 10% each you would be creating an exponential increase in the revenues. Now, instead of $10,000 per year you would make $13,310. That's more than a 30% increase.
That's all. But please, someone, anyone, fix these things.
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