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Design Web from a Customer Perspective

Most of us have little time and are using what precious little time we do have to find what we already know we want. An impressive flash introduction doesn’t help because it is more about advertising or showing off some technical bells and whistles. That doesn’t impress me; I just want to get to the information that I am looking for: “skip intro”. What about you? What do you do when you land on one of these pages?

Website design is more art than science in my view, It is about stepping into the website visitors shoes and asking yourself, how usable is this for my customer? Can they find what they are looking for quickly? How many steps do they need to take to get to their information?

Of course the first step in this process has to be analysing the typical end users needs. What exactly is the problem they are trying to solve and how can we direct them to the information they need? How much information do they need? How do we know that our language is correct (for example communicating with a teenager requires different language to that used to communicate effectively with retirees). I know that this is an extreme example, but serves to illustrate the point. There have been many studies done into the way website users scan for information and the patterns that their eyes typically follow. I recommend that anyone considering website design familiarise themselves with these studies.

I want to emphasise a quick point. Note that I said that website visitors scan the web. That’s right. Studies have shown that people tend not to read a web page as much as scan for the information they need. Typically this happens in an “F” pattern, scanning across the top of the page first, then down the left and across the middle of the page.