What not to do on your website

Nexus 7“I’m redoing my website,” the caller said. “I’ll probably make it scrollable.”

Do you know what he means by that?

It’s a site designed primarily to be viewed on a tablet or mobile device. It’s usually has a header image, then alternating panels of colour or white that scroll down and down and down.

One of the most common mistakes with scrollable sites is that there is no graphic indicating to users what they should do.

Just as more people cut out a coupon when there is a graphic of scissors along the dotted line with an instruction to ‘cut here’, more people scroll down when there is a down-pointing arrow, with or without a matching instruction.

I wondered whether I ought to make my site scrollable too, so I looked at my Analytics. I found that 95% of my site visitors view it from a desktop device. As that’s the case, I think I’ll leave it as it is. Those scrolling designs are less effective on a desktop or laptop computer.

By contrast, one of my clients gets 58% of traffic from users on mobiles. His is a B2C business, so for him it’s essential that his site is mobile-friendly.

Mine might not be scrollable, but my site IS responsive. The layout and navigation are automatically reconfigured when viewed on a small screen.

What percentage of visitors view your site on a mobile device? Do you need to rethink the format?

People power

Design v user experience

Design v user experience

Unlike a book or magazine, where you can assume people start reading at the beginning and stop when they get bored, they can view webpages in any order they please.

People like to choose their own way around your site. They like clicking buttons and filling in forms. It gives them the feeling they are customising their use of your site to suit themselves.

Therefore, design the navigation around the customer journey, not your own product or service offering. Make liberal use of ‘continue’ buttons to keep site visitors engaged.

For example, I recently wrote some web copy for a general solicitor. Instead of call-to-action graphics guiding people to choose a service such as wills or contracts, they click ‘for my life’ or ‘for my business’ and find what they want within that section.

Does each page of your site stand alone? Does it grant power to the people?

Three is a magic number

Picture a three-legged stool. Then picture a four-legged chair. Now, in your mind’s eye, try to push each of them over.

You’ll find it’s harder to topple the three-legged stool.

Wow! Three legs are more stable than four! What’s that about?

It’s called Gestalt and is all to do with balance.

What that means to you is that any list, such as bullet points, will feel naturally more complete when it comprises three, five or seven components instead of an even number.

Does your site tap into the power of three?

ALL CAPS

It may be tempting to emphasise headings or important sections of copy in CAPITAL LETTERS.

This comes across as shouting, and is also harder to read. There’s a good reason why this is.

Once you have learned to read, you no longer spell out each word letter by letter in your head. Instead, you recognise the word by its overall shape, including ascenders and descenders.

Outline a word written in capital letters, and it forms the shape of a rectangle, therefore slowing down comprehension compared with the jagged outline of a word in lowercase.

Have you overdone the caps?

WOB

While on the subject of making text harder to read, WOB is a print term that stands for white on black.

We find it harder to read white on black than black on white.

Today’s web standards required that there is high contrast between your text and the background. This is so that automated screen readers can operate effectively for poorly sighted people.

Is your site background pale and elegant? Does your text show good contrast?

photo credit: Nexus 7 via photopin (license)

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