Before you start building your web site, have some users try your competitors web sites and take notes on the problems they have. Consider this pain points when designing and building your own web site.
Don’t make your users think. Strive to make web pages self-evident or, at the very least, self-explanatory. Every time a user stops to consider if they’re on the right path, it adds to their cognitive workload and distracts them from their actual task.
Don’t write something that nobody will ever read. Don’t write introductory text. Show them how to do things. Let them figure out how great your web site is.
Don’t think common sense is common. Everything is on a continuous between “obvious to everybody” and “truly obscure”.
Ask people around to use your web site to see how their common sense guides them through it. Ask even non-technical people. Everyone should be able to get an idea of how to get around your web site.
Design web sites to be scanned by your users, not read. Your users will never read every word you put on your web sites.
We don’t make optimal choices. We satisfice. We choose the first reasonable option. — Steve Krug
Keep the visual noise to the minimum. Assume everything is noise until proven otherwise.
Always include the big picture of your web site in the home page. Make it appeal to all users. It must allow your users to answer the following questions: What is this? What do they have here? What can I do here? Why should I be here?
Really think on the tag line to show next to your site id. It must have six to eight words, and be clear and informative. It’s not a motto. It must convey a value proposition.
Web sites have no sense of scale, no sense of direction. Include a clear and good navigation to show where they are, what the neighbor web pages are, and how to go back. Your users should never feel lost.
Try to avoid dropdowns on navigation bars.
Clear, well-thought navigation is one of the best opportunities a site has to create a good impression. — Steve Krug
Show the navigation always on the same place. The only exceptions are: The home page, where it can be slightly different. And on form pages, where the navigation might be a distraction.
Highlight where the user is in navigation bars, lists, or menus.
Design the navigation to work for all the potential levels of the web site.
Name every web page. Users use it to confirm that they’re still on the right path when they start to feel lost.
Divide the web page in well defined areas. As users are scanning your web page, they should be able to safely ignore areas of no interest to them.
Create a clear visual hierarchy between the elements. Make more important something is, more prominent.
At any given page your users should be able to answer the following questions without hesitation: What site is this? What page am I on? What are the major sections of this site? What are my options at this level? Where am I in the scheme of things? How can I search?
Carefully highlight the main task of each web page for your users to find it. Users scan for things that matches the task at hand or their current personal interests. They won’t read everything on the web page.
Don’t worry about the number of clicks to perform a given task. Make sure each click is easy and painless to follow.
Make logically related elements also visually related.
Nest things that belongs to a bigger thing.
Use common conventions, it makes it easier for your users to start using your web site.
Don’t use clever names, marketing-induced names, or company specific names.
Always include either a search box or a search link. The only exception might be on very small and well organized web sited.
Use search engines smart enough to understand what your users want to search. Your users shouldn’t have to think how they want to search.
Make links and buttons obviously clickable.
Make input fields smart about formatting. Don’t force your users to type in things following a specific format.
Avoid religious wars by testing specific options with your target audience. The same solution might not apply to different web sites or different user groups.
The only problem is, there is no Average User. — Steve Krug
Conduct usability tests early and often. Tests will always give you valuable feedback, even when testing the wrong things with the wrong users. A simple test now is better than a sophisticated test later.
Watch users use your web site, without your guidance, and take notes when they have problems. Fix it and test again.
Ignore problems when users notices they’re in the wrong direction, are able to recover, and doesn’t seem to bother them.
Sometimes the solution is to remove distractions rather than adding more instructions.
Favor bigger font size over smaller font size.