To anyone with a web design or development background, "design for the user" might seem like a bit of advice so axiomatic that it isn't even worth repeating. But a cursory user of many a business's website will reveal that user-friendliness isn't always the #1 consideration when designing and developing contemporary websites.
Users are getting more sophisticated, at a faster pace than some of those who run America's SMBs
. A recent survey by USIO
reveals some of the most common problems that real live users have with websites. These are problems which are pretty far reaching. If you have a website, or if you're having yours built or updated anytime soon, this survey is well worth a look. Here are some of the important takeaways:
- Pop-ups and automated noise are reviled. Survey respondents overwhelmingly reported that pop-ups and autoplay videos were two of the most hated features on websites. Lots of people feel this way, and we can all relate to the problem. There's nothing like having a lot of tabs open on your web browser, only to have some irritating fabric softener jingle spring from your computer speakers. Nobody likes it when this happens, but pop-ups and automated video content are still industry standard for many websites, including some major news sites. Automated content and the occasional pop-up window have their places, and can actually generate a lot of added traffic and monetisation. But these must be placed well and not overused. Nobody gets angry at automated content that works. It's when it's obnoxious that we start to get angry.
- People hate things that don't work. 404 pages and complicated navigation were also common responses when people were asked what the worst part of using a website way. It's common to see both on websites of local businesses, ones which can't afford to create and update a site on the regular. It's important for businesses in these situations to pay for websites which are very simple from the get-go. If there is lots and lots of content, which is difficult to find or is impossible to read in a single sitting, this is more content than is necessary. Trim the fat and make your website much easier to use.
- Bad images. Awkward stock photos or bad image qualities make your website look cheap... because it is. It pays to invest in quality images, which reflect the actual values of your business or brand. We are an image-driven culture. People who go to your site will naturally find their eyes gravitating to your pictures first. Make them worth the look.
There are plenty of other things which can weigh your website down, but these are the ones that topped the list on USIO's survey. So when you're having your next website designed, try to think like your end user. Or better yet, get one of your users to try it out before it goes live! This beta tester strategy can reveal problems in your site's design and can get you on the right track.