Thursday, August 21, 2008

Importance and considerations to make a user friendly web application

From my 4+ year’s professional experience I realized some important things to build user friendly website. Actually this will help to increase users of your website. These things are not big deal. Users first want a stable and easy application which is easy to use. After this they compare features with another application.
Always assume that a web user have a short attention spans. Remember that the user will use your site is interested in your contents, not the capabilities of design software. They will think usability in place of your internal architecture. So before building any web application, you need to consider who will access your site and how they use the features.
I don’t think start-ups usually realize that it’s not only important to have a functioning site, but a functional site as well.
Check for errors regularly:
Every stable/unstable web application needs to be checked at least once a month for any broken links. Also you can get help some tools to check link; such as Link Defender. Make sure that your site is stable and reliable in different browser and avoid any unnecessary downtime. Add details explanation for any failure.
Never assume that the viewers have the latest browser. If you have to include anything that will only work with the latest version, try to make sure that it is not crucial to the workings of your site
Other important things are to check spelling or grammatical mistakes. If needed, you can consult with trusted ones who can help you in this regards.
Site working properly:
This is the main thing for any application. Ensure that all things are working well which you provided. If any feature is not working well then you should not provide that feature.
Consistent design layout:
It is the most important thing for a web application. Try to keep your site consistent. Don't use too many fonts, especially special fonts that may not be available on the computer of the person viewing your site. Make sure to use a consistent design and layout for each page on your site. Ensure the same general text color scheme, logo, consistent navigation menu, button, list style, entry form and header and footer in the
same place with consistent attributes. You should use template based design which will help u to create consistent design.
Navigation structure:
Display meaningful navigation menus, logical headings, link descriptions and logical breadcrumbs (e.g. Home ? Products ? HDD) which will help users to know current browsing place and guide visitors. Add easy and meaningful links for next task and add help texts if needed. Use a text-based navigation menu instead of a graphical or drop-down JavaScript menu.
Site map:
You should include a text and image based site map with a link of every page, and add short details of every page. If you use good site map then you don’t have to add links to every page from your home page. Many sites use site maps, but does not update regularly and keep these well descriptive to find pages.
Search tools and search engine:
To build intuitive applications you need to provide search facility in the site. It will be helpful for users.
Ensure that your site is search engine compatible. If possible use texts in place of graphics. Avoid frames, flash and graphical text. Use logical title and META tags for each page and include meaningful keywords to META tag.
Other things:
To build an intuitive web application you should consider following things too:
  • Include contact details. If you don’t provide the way to contact, then people will hesitate to trust you.
  • Add feedback form so that anyone can give feedback which will help to build excellent application.
  • Use simple language to understand which is helpful for all type of user’s (regional users). Minimize texts as far as possible. You need to prioritize user’s interest most.
  • Make user friendly URLs. A user friendly URL must be short, lowercase, plain language and conventional. URLs are often the single barrier that prevents millions of users from visiting a site.
  • Always try to minimize fancy stuffs.
  • Remove unnecessary image which will help to load your page quickly.