Okay gang, it’s now time for part two of our web usability series – time to learn more about keeping your website simple and easy to use. Today, we’re tackling accessibility – a website that nobody can see isn’t really much use now, is it? We’ve listed a few tips below that will make your website more accessible.
Watch your speed
Research has shown that most people will wait up to 8 seconds for a page to load. Make them wait any longer, and they’re likely to head elsewhere. The key here is to optimize your site to speed up load times. This could involve cleaning up code, installing caching software on your server, and other things that you can discuss with your designer and site administrator, so we’re not going into too much detail on that.
Don’t get too flashy
One aspect of optimizing your site that you should definitely think about though is the use of Flash. Statistics vary on how many people have Flash installed on their browsers, but the key point is that not everybody has it. Flash can give you slick animation, a unique interface, and other tricks, but it does have its pitfalls too. The biggest pitfall is that you could keep some users from even seeing your site. If you really want Flash, then make sure you have an HTML version available too.
Other potential problems with Flash include slowing down page load times and straining your users’ computers. Another big issue is that Flash isn’t very SEO friendly, but that’s a topic for another post.
Stay in line
Browsers like Opera and Firefox introduced us to tabbed browsing, which allows users to keep several pages open at the same time. Some people love it, myself included, but not everybody has caught on. In fact, research has shown that majority of Internet users stick to one tab or window – they navigate using the back button and forward buttons.
What this means is that you probably don’t want your links to open to new tabs or windows. For some users, the back button is the only way back to your website once they click a link. If you send these users into another tab, they might never return. Now we don’t want that, do we?
Invite your grandma to visit
I guess the main idea you should take away from this post is this: make sure your least tech-savvy relatives can still navigate your site on their ancient computers. You don’t want people to feel like they’re not welcome at your site, do you?
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This the second post in Pepper’s Web Usability series. You can check out the rest of the series in the links below. Before you go though, we’d like to ask you if you have other ideas to make sure your website remains accessible to everybody. Leave your tips in the comments below.
- Keep it simple: the basic philosophy for web usability
- Don’t be a snob: make sure that everybody can access your site
- Identify yourself: don’t make it hard to figure out who’s behind your site
- Show me around: make it easy to navigate your site
- Say it, and say it well: make sure you get your message across
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