Site Usability Factors – Readability, Navigability anc Connectivity

There are three basic factors that any user friendly web site possesses, or should have: Readability, Navigability, Connectivity. Together, they make site usability. All should go into good web site design.

1. Readability

Have you ever visited a website that you almost could not read? Perhaps the fonts were so artistic that you could not make them out.

Or maybe the text was too small for your eyes initially, then text and graphics overlapped when you told your browser to enlarge the scale. Perhaps the color contrast was lousy, such as black on dark gray, light blue on dark blue, black on brown.

If your eyes found everything to be great, would a colorblind person agree?

Dont forget that the usual purpose of a website is to communicate something. That is the mission of newspapers and magazines, which print most of their content as black on white. Headings and highlights are usually consistent with a color contrast analyzer, such as the free one below. Seniors and colorblind make up about one fourth of your potential viewers, so dont turn them away.

Heres a free Color Contrast Analyser to see contrast ratios for any eyes. It has samplers and sliders to test variations around examples. Black on white (or reverse) has a ratio of about 21 for all normal and colorblind eyes. I prefer color pairs with ratio of at least 4, preferably 5 or more.

2. Navigability

Even for a one page website, it should be easy for a viewer to navigate to whatever you offer. The layout should have an easy flow to it, even if you dont need navigation menus as horizontal or vertical bars of page links.

Is your page full of ads drawing your viewers to other sites? Do you have cute graphics or banners confusing the page? If so, ask What, really, is the purpose of your page / site?

3. Connectivity (bandwidth)

Speed of connection versus bytes to be transferred is a tradeoff, whether for intra- or inter- net. Not only your own web site, but all the connections between your content and your viewers, affects the responsiveness of what you offer.

Perhaps well catch up with China on the percentage of web connections via high speed fiber-optics (capable of more than 200Mbps). Meanwhile, even a fast cable connection (say 10 to 50 Mbps) shows that YouTube videos are pathetically slow to load, even for their typical small-port and low resolution.

So carefully consider whether your message requires animated graphics or videos. Or even whether you have a real message to convey.

Recommendations:

  • 1. Pick a good Internet Service Provider and a supportive hosting company. High performance (at least on cable) is readily available in North America at ever improving bargain prices. {I now use comcast.net cable and hostgator.com hosting. Qwest.com is starting to offer fiber optics.}
  • 2. Strive for balance in any HTML you write or templates you use from other people. Glitz does not mean effectiveness. Huge graphics at the top wastes space.
  • 3. Dont let the medium distract you from the message.

 

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