by Jakob Neilsen
Although it's just my opinion, I hate frames. I've surfed the
web for over 5 years now, and have only seen two web sites that
have used frames well. One of them was L.L. Bean's, and the other
was a company that is no longer around. By the way, Beans has
long since stopped using frames. Splitting a page into multiple
sections is very confusing for users since frames break the fundamental
user model of the web page. Basics such as trying to bookmark
the current page, trying to print the page, and simple predictability
of user actions goes out the door. Who knows what information
will appear where/when you click on a link?
Too Much Technology
There is a time and place for everything. Unless you have a specific
need to use Bleeding Edge Technology, useless over the top just
for kicks techno pop is the sure kiss of death. Sure, you will
attract a few nerds, but mainstream users will care more about
useful content and your ability to offer good customer service.
Using the latest and greatest before it is even out of beta is
a sure way to keep your customers from coming back. I liken the
over use of techno wizardry to the days when desktop publishing
was young. The inexperienced who thought they were being creative
put twenty fonts in a single page layout. Let's learn from our
Animations, Scrolling text, etc.
Too much a of a good thing... It's a hard thing to remember, but
why did someone come to your page in the first place? Is it because
of something they wanted to see. NOT because of something you
wanted to show them. Page elements that move incessantly take
more time to download, and are a distraction from the first rate
information (you do remember why you have a web site in the first
place, don't you?) you are providing to your clients. Moving images
have an overpowering effect on the human peripheral vision. A
web page should not emulate Times Square in New York City in its
constant attack on the human senses: give your user some peace
and quiet to actually read the text! Of course, BLINK is simply
evil. Enough said.
Web developers are finally starting to understand that users sometimes
need to type in a URL, so try to minimize the risk of typos by
using short names with all lower-case characters and no special
characters (many people don't know how to type a ~). Thus, a URL
should contain human-readable directory and file names that reflect
the nature of the information space.
This is one of those "common sense" items to which I
am constantly amazed. More often than not I find myself on pages
that do not include a clear indication to what web site they belong.
Because users may access pages directly without coming in through
your home page, every page should have a link up to your home
page as well as some indication of where they fit within the structure
of your information space.
Long Scrolling Pages
Recent studies show that users are more willing to scroll now
than they were in the early years of the Web, but because people
are looking for something when they go to a site, all critical
content and navigation options should be on the top part of the
Lack of Navigation Support
Did you ever notice when you walk into a department store like
KMart you know exactly where everything is? That's because the
store is laid out in a structured manner with giant banners hanging
from the ceiling. Your brain understands where to go to find something
specific. Don't assume that users know as much about your site
as you do. Providing strong sense of structure and place resulting
in easy navigation is important to the structure of your site..
Start your design with a good understanding of the structure of
the information space and communicate this structure explicitly
to the user. For larger sites, a site map (which has no business
on a site under a few dozen pages) or a good search feature can
Non-Standard Link Colors
Even though web browsers are fully customizable and users can
override any settings they wish, links to pages that have not
been seen by the user are blue; links to previously seen pages
are purple or red. Don't mess with these colors since the ability
to understand what links have been followed is one of the few
navigational aides that is standard in most web browsers. Consistency
is key to teaching users what the link colors mean.
Another reason people visit your web site and then don't call
you is outdated information. Customers are fickle enough, and
many of them make the assumption that if they see old information
on your web site, that you don't care about your business, or
having them as a customer. Budget for maintenance. Done properly,
maintenance is an inexpensive way of enhancing the content on
your Web site while developing new content as well.
Overly Long Download Times
There is no quicker way to alienate visitors to your web site
than by making them wait, and wait,....and wait! Usually for something
they didn't want to see in the first place. Like it or not, the
web is still a text based medium and your customers are there
for information. Keep your graphics optimized, and to a minimum.
Ya know...the balance between form and function.