16 Keys to a User-Friendly Web Site
When users visit your magazine's Web site, do they stay? For how long? Enhancing the user experience is a critical factor for generating online revenue. The following tips will help your visitors become the loyal readers you are seeking.
• Do use Web analytics to track how users move through your site and where they get stuck. If they never find certain parts of your site, it most likely requires different navigation.
• Do make links obvious. Unequivocally identify text links and make buttons look clickable. Write meaningful link labels. If you use icons, label them clearly.
• Do show some content first before asking users to register or subscribe.
• Do reduce the number of clicks a site visitor must make before reaching substantive content.
• Do check your links regularly. Broken links and dead ends are frustrating to users.
• Do give users some connection to your print product. For example, provide contacts, subscription and advertising information for Web and print products. Web users don't live in a vacuum -- if they know you have a print edition, they expect to see some reference to it on your site.
• Do give your homepage a distinct layout. You have seven seconds to get the user's attention, so use the space wisely. Your homepage should highlight the main activities of your site. "Bubble up" content to show users what they'll find. Define a starting point for new users. Don't let your homepage look like all of your other pages.
• Do use space wisely. The "above-the-fold" space in a browser window is valuable real estate, so don't waste it on graphics or blank space.
• Do put a search box on every page. Don't put two search boxes on a page, even if they search different areas of your site. Almost half of all users on average prefer to use search rather than clicking links, so search is essential.