Website Usability

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Ok, most of you know that we are involved in a major redesign of our main site. It is loooong overdue and it is painful. I feel like a runner-up in a fight with Mike Tyson (the mid-80s Mike, not the cannibalistic guy with the face tatoo ;), although I am sure the result would be the same with either one). Never-the-less, it MUST be done.

When we originally created the site, we were just happy to have a web presence. Woo hoo – we are online! Ummm…now what? This was the path to the dark side. And so, here we are today, paying for past sins.

Anyway, I thought it might be helpful to outline how our new site will be an improvement and what features we are attempting to incorporate into the new design. It all started with a report from Charlene Li of Forrester Research group that was entitled “Creating Good Online Content Experiences – Usability Beats Unique Content, Hands Down.” Hmmm. The article has this to say, in part:

Unique content does matter, but the basics — such as clear navigation, easy-to-use search, and ads that don’t interfere — matter more.

Content comes in second place? Interesting. Reading further, here were some of the things that polled web users felt were, not just important, but necessary for a website:

  • Send me directly to the content I am looking for – 72%
  • Don’t put a bunch of ads in my face (certainly no popups) – 75%
  • I want a spectacular search feature – 66%
  • Don’t send me to a cramped home page (give me some space to breathe) – 60%
  • If I choose to register for something, don’t make me jump through hoops to do so (make it easy) – 58%
  • I want some content that I cannot get anywhere else – ready for this40%

Needless to say, those figures were eye-opening. And I must say that when I visit a site that has followed those rules, my experience is greatly enhanced. So, I decided that, while not scrapping the unique website content idea, we are working on incorporating those features into our new site. As we get further along, I will post some progress updates here.

What do you feel is most important in web design? Are you going through a redesign currently? What are your goals? If you have comments, please share with the rest of the class.

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