Friday, January 18, 2013

Make Your Website the Right Way…and Keep People Coming Back!

People depend on the web today for a fast, simple way to access the most current information on any topic. If a site is designed poorly, or doesn’t contain good information, people will stop coming and you’ll lose your audience. Audience is very important in AYSO because if we lose parents, we lose players. Here are some points to keep in mind when working on your website to ensure that it’s the best it can be:
KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid

This is a mantra used throughout user design. No matter how simple YOU think it is, there are people out there who won’t think it’s so easy to use. Test your designs before implementing them by choosing a few (non-tech) people to test it out. Gather their feedback and design it to fit their needs and not yours. Here are some ways to keep it simple:
  • Create a clear visual hierarchy on each page
  • Take advantage of conventions
  • Break pages into clearly defined areas
  • Make links obvious
  • Minimize distracting elements
  • Use common sense

Keep It Focused and Purposeful

Users have a reason to visit a website and it’s usually to find specific information. Anything that gets in the way of that purpose is counterproductive. Eliminate “landing pages”, including introductory animations/slideshows. People don’t want to sit and wait for something to load just to click through it anyway. Let them get in, get their information and get out. Keep your content up to date. Parents will not continue to visit a website to read the same information as their last visit. That doesn’t help the parents stay informed. Know the purpose of your website and don’t stray away from it.

Keep It Organized

Organization is key to helping people get the information they want and need as quickly as possible. Review your site structure to make sure that each page is under the correct category and not somewhere obscure where no one will find it. Avoid nesting pages too deeply into a website. The Three Click Rule is king!

Make It Fast!

Users don’t want to sit forever while a site loads. Try not to make your site too image heavy, as images take time to download. If you do use images, optimize them to be as small as possible. If an image has a picture or gradient in it, save it as a .JPG file at 72 DPI. If an image is completely graphical (solid colors and lines), save it as a .GIF file at 72 DPI. PNG images are nice and look good, but they also use up more space and therefore take longer to download. Also, make the images the size you need them to be on the webpage. You can scale an image down by adding a width and height, but remember, the user still has to load a large image even though it appears smaller on the page, which takes precious time!

Design For All Browers

Not every user out there uses Internet Explorer, so you shouldn’t design JUST for Internet Explorer. In December 2012, only 14.7% of Internet users were using Internet Explorer. Chrome is now the most popular browser, with 46.9% of all Internet users. Firefox is second most popular with 31.1% of all Internet users. You can see the complete statistics on the W3C Browser Statistic page. Make sure your site looks good in all major browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE and Safari). You don’t want someone to leave your site because it doesn’t work properly!

Always Think About SEO

Search Engine Optimization starts in the beginning of the design process. Add ALT tags to your images to make them searchable. Make sure your META header tags accurately describe each page and that your content contains all of the keywords possible to get your site picked up by search engines. Links are just as important too, so if you can link somewhere for a user to get more information, go ahead and add that link in.

With these tips, you should be on your way to creating a user-friendly site that will keep parents coming back for more!

No comments:

Post a Comment