29 January 2008

Understanding your website visitors

After having started to realise the importance of website facing the visitors in the online world, we now continue to understand who these visitors to websites are and what they really want. As we touch upon this subject the national website award event registrations have been closed and the jury has started marking websites.

What they came for
Visitors are here in your website looking for something new: it could be new content, new news, new skills or even a new experience. Publishing on the web is not only about great looking websites with killer content. It is also to do with user experience. Even if there is great content in cutting edge technical form, if it takes too long to get, then most users don’t have the time to wait for it.

Content for online media
If website owners think a while about why people need to visit their website then there could be a lot of meaningful content. It is also important to provide relevant and timely content which means text from the print medium like brochures and catalogues cannot be used as such. Writing style has to reform into a new style suitable for the new medium. It is also important to consider the pixel real-estate and be minimal in words yet convey the intent refreshingly. It is wise to use new media content designers.

Freedom of choice
A website must be built as scientifically as an ‘Information Architecture’ and delivered in an aesthetic form. The need for using the word “stresses the fact that there must be a blue-print for the entire website which details as to how the information is stacked and where what fits in. It is scientific because this structure must support easy location of information and also support addition of new content without having to alter the structure. Once this framework is in place, then provision of navigation links becomes easier. These links give the freedom of choice to the visitors to pick and choose his actions. According to Usability experts, ‘keep it simple to move around your website’.

Location reference
As the logic of html — Hyper Text Markup Language goes; any text on the web can be linked to another. This means visitors can reach any particular page on your website from elsewhere other than your homepage. At any point in location, the visitors must be able to know where he is, with respect to your entire website. The visitor must also know where else he can go with a link as to how to get there. Simple put provide these indicative elements: where you are, where you can go within a website, where all I have been in this set of options. This can be provided either in text for or as graphical notations.

Give the essence in full
When you plan content or experience within your website, make sure the visitor can reach it easily with fewer clicks and not somewhere buried deep inside. Users are normally put off with websites which don’t load fast, sites that do not look good in their web browser, sites that do not fit into their resolution and make scroll horizontally and vertically. Even links that organise content within a website must be straight forward and not misleading with jargon. Broken links and technical error messages occurring within a website are also reasons why visitors do not revisit certain websites.

Even if there are exciting user experiences inside the website the above de-motivators drive users away. The best way to avoid these pitfalls is to design a website to standard resolutions and clear structure with base level technologies that are supported by most commonly used web browsers. A final chance of remission is to keep testing all pages and all links and even re-reading content in a new frame of mind. With the above guidelines in mind let us understand issues regarding to links and graphics in the next week of Digital Oman. Until then keep clicking and happy surfing the World Wide Web.

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