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Article: Easy navigation and usability are one of the most important aspects of creating a "user friendly" website. However, there are still a "plethora" of web-sites out there that are, to be politically correct, “functionally challenged.” Does your website keep people captivated, or does it send them fleeing as soon as they get to the first page? Do you offend your visitors with the following annoyances?
1) Music or any voice recording that automatically plays when you enter a site, without giving me the option of turning it off. Yes, there are still website owners who think that putting their Midi version of "Play That Funky Music Whiteboy," will some how impress their visitors. Always give people the option of listening to any recorded information you have on your website. Don't automatically assume that your visitors will be captivated by your voice, or your music.
2) Spinning or animated GIF's of any type. Websites that have the “Under Construction” sign when I hit your homepage. Don’t promote what you don’t have.
3) Any website that looks like it resembles Times Square in New York City! Multitudes of “flashing” or “blinking” banner ads shoved in my face as soon as I reach your landing page will send me running. Flashing banner ads are the equivalent of a carnival barker trying to lure people into his sideshow! You don’t need to shout to people to get you message heard on the Internet. Keep you banner ad’s limited, and your content abundant!
4) Website owners that make it too hard to navigate their site. If I have to jump through "link hoops" to get to your information I am outta there. Make your product, price, or service, clear, precise, and easy to find. The "about us,” or "frequently asked questions" section of some web-sites, leaves me with more questions than answers. Design your content so that even elementary school children can understand the purpose of your website.
5) Pop-Ups..Pop-Ups...Pop-Ups..I don't mind one, or even a few. But, if I have to close multiple pop-ups to get to your website, I will flee the scene. I have encountered some sites that had so many pop-ups they froze my computer screen. And yes, I had my pop-up blocking software activated! It doesn’t always work. The same applies for any of those "fly-in" or "hover ads" that bounce across my computer screen. If you have to use anything, incorporate a pop-up that loads when a visitor leaves, not before, or during my visit to your site.
6) A page full of dead links and constant "Page Not Found" error messages. Keep your links up to date and take down the links that are no longer active.
7) Cursing or using worn out phrases like "Kick Butt," or "Kick Ass." (Example: “Kick Ass Copy-Writing Service,” “Kick Butt Web Marketing”). I can't get to the close button fast enough when I see anyone using that phrase in website advertising copy. It maybe an excellent marketing headline, but for me, it is a total turn-off. Impress your visitors with intelligent, informative, advertising copy and content.
8) AND SOMEONE-ANYONE-PLEASE! Stop the "ultra" dark background accented with an equally dark font! I have discovered many a website in which the background, and the text fonts, are indistinguishable from each other! It looks like your are staring into a black hole! Lighten things up a bit, and don’t make me turn the brightness controls on my monitor to full! And no, I don’t want to highlight the text so I can read the information on your website!
9) While I love Marcomedia's Flash, I think it should be used sparingly. Unless you have a film site, or a product that requires a detailed visual description, just forget about using flash for e-commerce. There is a majority of people out there who still use those pokey dial-up modems (me being one of them) and I "hate the wait!"
Even when I use the skip feature it still takes to long for the page to load. While doing research for <a href="http://www.productsforresale.com">The Ultimate Guide To Products For Resale</a> I noticed that some designer clothing wholesalers where using flash to sell their product. The same applied to retail sellers of designer shoes, designer handbags, and designer clothing.
My question is why? If you are using your site to sell a product, just stick with high quality, fast loading photos, followed up with good creative descriptions of each item. If you have to make people wait to buy your product, people will buy their product somewhere else! If you absolutely, positively, must use Flash, make your files as fast loading as possible, especially if you are selling a product.
10) Solid blocks of text with no breaks between paragraphs. The only industry that gets away with that format is newspaper, book, and magazine publishers. The Internet is a different world altogether. People not only want their information quick, but they also want to read it in smaller, "bit size" portions of content.
I like to skim over articles for the main points. If I have to "slog" through content that looks like a rambling diatribe with no paragraph breaks, I’m gone! Make your content clear and concise. Break up your paragraphs, and use plenty of "white space" when possible.
So there they are. My “Top Ten” pet peeves of dysfunctional design! Do you incorporate any of them in your website? When it comes to good design, and great site navigation, think of your website as if you were having guests over to your house. Make your house, as well as your website, “neat and ready to greet!” For more information about how to make your site user friendly, go to <a href="http://www.useit.com/">Jakob Nielsen's</a> site for tips on better website design and usability.
About the author: Robert C. Potter is a wholesale and retail surplus products specialist. He is the author of “The Ultimate Guide To Products For Resale!” Over 300 Wholesale & Surplus Supply Sources For Ebay Auction Sellers, E-Commerce Websites, Flea Market Vendors, and Retail Store Owners! You can find his 160 page ebook at: http://www.productsforresale.com