Thursday, June 18, 2009
Making your website as usable as possible

When designing or redesigning your site, there’s a ton of decisions to be made in terms of navigation, layout and functionality. The wrong choices can make a big impact on your site’s performance over the long term. So how do you know what to choose?

According to Jakob Nielsen, the best way to create the most user-friendly design is to go to the end user and do some research: even if your budget is small, small-scale focus groups can give valuable insight that, in Nielsen’s study, performed significantly better than the choices the designers had made based on their own instincts.

The problem with letting designers make the decisions, says Nielsen, is that they tend to have an overly optimistic view of the general population’s web skills.

And that can be deadly for your site. If a user finds it confusing or hard to read, they’ll go elsewhere.

Have you ever done end-user research on potential site designs? How did it work for you?

- Kat Tancock
About Me
Kat Tancock
Kat Tancock is a freelance writer, editor and digital consultant based in Toronto. She has worked on the sites of major brands including Reader's Digest, Best Health, Canadian Living, Homemakers, Elle Canada and Style at Home and teaches the course Creating Website Editorial at Ryerson University.
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