Oct 10 in Web Design Written by: Harris
The Internet conditions us for pessimism. Most users will visit 9 or 10 different websites before they settle on one they think shows the most promise. In other words 9 out of 10 times the user has wasted their time. It’s no surprise then, that Internet users limit their website evaluation time to less than 20 seconds (and often not more than a couple of seconds).
If users spend only 20 seconds evaluating a website, what can we expect from a new visitor to our website if we present them with a navigation system so unfamiliar, that it takes 2 minutes to master? Answer: The new visitor will probably abandon the site, because of the cost in time and effort.
The bottom line
With billions of websites on the Internet, users just aren’t prepared to spend any time learning new and unorthodox navigational conventions. Unless your audience is particularly computer savvy, stick to the standards below;
Webpage navigation standards:
- The navigation system should be intuitive. The visitor should know immediately where to find the menu, and how to use it.
- Furthermore the menu should be in the same location on all pages, and should be arranged so that the most popular options are most visible.
- It’s a good idea to use “Site Maps”, “Search” boxes, and other devices that allow users to quickly find what they are looking for.
- As mentioned above, all text links should stand out from other copy and should always be underlined as is the Internet convention.
- If a link opens a new window (not recommended except for external links) the user should be warned (the O icon is becoming the convention).
- If using buttons for navigation, ALT text should be used for non-graphic browsers.
Well established link conventions
- Links should be easily identifiable
- Use a different colour for links (preferably a blue)
- Use underlining for all links
- Visited links should be coloured differently to unvisited links
- Unvisited links should be coloured more vividly than visited links
- Ideally, underlined text should be reserved exclusively for links
- Don’t use blue for non-link text (strongly associated with linking convention)
- Use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to maintain consistency for links;
- Site-wide visited links should use the same font and colour
- Site-wide unvisited links should use the same font and colour
- Non-link text should never use the same colour as linked text
- Don’t place links too closely together in lists (some users have limited control of the mouse and may have trouble moving the mouse small distances)
- Link labels should be clear and concise
- Link titles should be used to further describe the link destination