Web Design For The End User Research Proposal Sample
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While perusing the variety of web pages available on the Internet, there are several areas that can be improved to increase traffic while improving the experience for the end user. The majority of these issues concern basic web design and include the following:
Improve developers’ design skills while understanding users’ needs.
Encourage developers to care not only about code, but also design.
Improve user interface by providing better navigation for the end user.
Improve developer awareness about how the design is essential in order to increase the numbers of visitors to a website.
Excellent web design is possible by placing the end users’ needs first and providing them with a pleasurable Internet experience. With a little time and effort, this is entirely possible.
Many website developers focus on the programming, or code, phase while creating a website. While this is an important phase of website design, the design phase is arguably a more important issue. While the programming may be exemplary, if the design is lacking, the site will be unsuccessful. Using tips utilized in digital marketing can turn a mediocre website into a high performance website, regardless of the budget (Ostrowercha, 2014). Poor design easily leads to usability issues (Erode, 2014), which can be prevented by following best practices of website design (Schenker, 2014). Business to commerce, or B2C, sites require further measures, such as ensuring the security in place protects both the end user and the business (Higgins, 2014), an enticing landing page (Ruffolo, 2012), and effective content (Griffith, 2014).
Employing the theory of wayfinding in the design process provides a method of navigation throughout the website while allowing the end user options for progression (Darken & Peterson, 2001). Navigation throughout the website is an important aspect of the overall design and contributes to the ease of use (Crestodina, n.d.).
As a developer, view lists, such as Griffith’s Top 100 Websites of 2014 (2015) to maintain an understanding of current trends and gain design ideas. For the development of e-commerce sites, visit other similar sites and learn the competition. Alexa.com provides the top listings globally in a wide variety of categories that allow a measure of customization (2015).
A variety of methods are used to ensure the effectiveness of the design of a website as well as ensuring the design is cohesive. Perform research to obtain design tips to help determine what attracts end users to a site. Utilize market research to increase website optimization (oneupweb, 2014). Google Analytics provides a powerful tool to assist in many areas, especially search engine optimization, or SEO (Kemp, 2014). Take advantage of SEO to direct traffic to the website (moz.com, n.d.). Use these tools to understand and guide the user as much as possible (Schade, 2014).
When designing a website, it is imperative to plan for the targeted market as well as potential visitors. With this in mind, it is important to create an unforgettable brand appeal, place strategic content within strategic site structure, include a call to action, expand the design plans to include mobile design, scalability, and browser compatibility, achieve customer fulfillment, and ensure the website hosting meets or exceeds expectations. Creating unforgettable brand appeal provides invaluable marketing potential. The website needs to showcase your brand through the use of its look, feel, and content. This establishes the website in a very competitive market and has the potential to turn site visitors into customers. The content within the site should be strategically placed and carefully worded to attract and retain visitors. A strategic website structure enables visitors to find the information quickly and easily. Other considerations to be undertaken at this time include the placement of media, such as videos and images, and how quickly the page loads. Larger files dramatically increase the loading time. A call to action (CTA) basically provides a method to request the visitor to provide something. This could be a requirement for information or compel them to place an order, depending on the purpose of the site. When planning a website, the device does matter. Not all web pages that display wonderfully on a desktop computer will make the transition to a mobile phone or tablet. Another area of consideration is the difference in browsers. There are variances between each and websites must have the capacity to make that transition. It is frustrating for users to be in one browser in an attempt to make a purchase or access certain information just to be told the browser being used is incompatible with that function. A website needs to “close the deal”. A visitor may visit the site to see what products or services are offered or to find information such as location and hours of operation. This is a capture and fulfillment process and has the potential to turn visitors into customers. A website hosting service is essential to the website. If the hosting service cannot provide the bandwidth necessary to support the traffic the site attracts, it is detrimental to the business. Visiting a site while the site is down for any reason is frustrating for the user and is an impediment to promoting the brand (Ostrowercha).
Erode offers design tips to ensure customer satisfaction. Provide clear instructions for various functions, such as the password requirements. Advise the customer of the requirements instead of leaving this feature vague. Customers become frustrated when they have to make multiple attempts to create the login information. Another cause for customer frustration occurs when the security code is unreadable. Multiple attempts to complete this task will cause a customer to take their business elsewhere. A Google search reveals numerous sites and lures customers to various sites. If the information concerning the nature of the site is not readily available, the customer may leave the site without viewing what is offered. The legalities of any site is a necessary evil. The majority of users do not want to be required to scroll through the never-ending legalese to understand the rules and regulations. This is solved by providing an abridged version in a more understandable language to convey the basic meaning of the legal text. Of course, the full text should be accessible in addition to the abridged version in case clarification is needed. Unreadable text will kill a website. If there is little or no contrast between the background of the website and the text, it becomes illegible and makes the site impossible to read. Provide feedback to customers concerning form submission to let the customer know that their information was received. If the customer is notified of any errors within form submission, it should be relatively easily to notify them that there are no issues. Include a site-specific search. This allows users to quickly and easily locate the item they are searching. Google even provides a free service to add this feature to a website. Provide navigational links on both the tops and bottoms of pages, especially if the user must scroll through several linked pages. This allows ease of use for the website. Link the logo to the home page. This has become a standard design practice as it just makes sense. It provides easy access back to the starting point. Do not overload the home page with a plethora of information. When the home page is crowded, it causes the user to miss information that may be pertinent to their individual needs. Many will go elsewhere if they are assaulted by sensory overload.
The primary issue facing a successful website is usability. Emmerling provides a top ten list of common website usability issues that either confuse the end user or makes the website inaccessible by some. These issues are poor site navigation, poor readability, poor image implementation, poor formatting, lack of accessibility options, browser incompatibility, overuse of multimedia without alternate viewing options, providing too much text, lack of page anchors, and overusing ads (n.d.). These issues can affect any website issues, but can easily expand to include issues that arise when a membership or log on page is required. These additional issues include not providing clear detail on procedure, such as password requirements, and unreadable security codes. Another area of concern for any website is the lack of a site-specific search option (Erode, 2014). These issues are easily addressed and remedied during the design and coding phases. After all, a website containing a cohesive design attracts customers while a poorly designed website repels them.
The preliminary results indicate that usability of any website should be a primary concern. These concerns must be addressed during the design phase in order to create a cohesive webpage that is easy to use. Enacting a comprehensive list of best practices for web design will easily address usability, and any other, issues that may exist with a website.
When establishing best practices for web design, a good starting point is the typography. The colors and fonts of each web page have the potential of attracting or repelling end users. Schenker provides suggestions for making sound decisions in these areas as this aspect comprises ninety-five percent of the visual aspect of the design. The fonts used have to be easy to read and legible. For headings, common fonts used are sans-serif and serif. These fonts provide clarity as these meet the requirements. Commonly used serif fonts are Georgia and Chaparral Pro, with Arial and Freight Sans Pro being the more popular sans-serif choices (2014).
Within the bodies of many web pages, a majority of designers used serif fonts, with Georgia and Chaparral Pro being the serif fonts of choice. Arial and Helvetica are the most selected sans-serif fonts for these sections. Normally, though, the font choices used for the headlines are the fonts that catch the users’ eyes, but the text contained within the bodies must remain clear and legible to retain users. The average sizes for the headings range from 20 to 32 pixels with the text sizes ranging from 14 to 16 pixels (Schenker).
When selecting the background and font colors for a webpage, the developer has to ensure that the colors provide a contrast to provide readability. The old standard of black-text-on-white-background continues to be the preferred color combination; however, as technology progresses, other color combinations, such as dark gray fonts on a cream background, are becoming more gaining popularity (Schenker). While each developer wants his or her web page to be unique and memorable, poor color choices will make it memorable for the wrong reasons.
Security is a major issue for web developers. Insufficient security has the ability to cause major issues for retailers as vulnerabilities are exposed and the data of both the corporation and customer are compromised. If security issues are addressed during the design phase, these issues are reduced or obliterated once the site is in operation. The following recommendations are provided in an effort to prevent these common security design flaws:
Never assume trust. Trust should be granted or earned.
Use an authentication method that cannot be bypassed or tampered with.
Authorize after authentication.
Maintain a strict separation of data and control instructions and never accept control instructions received from unknown sources.
Define an approach to ensure explicit validation of all data.
Use cryptography correctly.
Identify sensitive data and provide methods for how this should be handled.
Always consider the users.
Attack surfaces change when external components are integrated. Understand how this process works.
When considering future changes, maintain flexibility (Higgins).
A landing page is any page that is accessible from a search engine or other page and provides the first impression of a website to a visitor. This page needs to be concise, clear, and credible. Links should be kept to a minimum to avoid unnecessary clutter. Verify that the landing page serves its purpose. Create several landing pages based on products or services offered and consider the demographics of the customers. Make it applicable to them (Ruffolo).
Another method to optimize the browsing experience is achieved by utilizing the concepts of wayfinding can prove to be beneficial as well. Wayfinding is a method of progressing throughout a variety of situations, such as reading a book. Books and web pages have similar features, such as pages of information organized into chapters or sections, a table of contents, or navigation bar, to indicate the beginning of each new chapter or section, and an index, or tag clouds and keywords, containing the concepts mentioned. Wayfinding theory postulates that a user would perform three processes: cognitive mapping, decision generation and decision execution. Utilizing wayfinding in a website allows the user to use spatial reasoning by providing options for progressing throughout the website in a manner similar to the use of street signs to guide an individual along a route in order to reach their destination (Darken & Peterson).
Navigation throughout a website should be a simple process. End users prefer familiar methods of navigating, such as a standard toolbar. This provides ease of use as well as providing a comfort level. Common mistakes in this area are caused by using a non-standard style, using generic labels, using drop down menus, including too many options in the navigation, and being inconsistent with the placement of options (Crestodina).
Using standard placement of toolbars is used to satisfy the users’ expectations and makes the site easier to use. This can directly affect the number of visits to a website and increases the amount of time spent perusing the information within those pages. Labels should be descriptive while conforming to the space constraints that are presented. Generic labeling includes “What we do” and “Location”, for example. Navigation should highlight the primary services or products that are available. Drop down menus should be avoided for a variety of reasons. It requires more time and effort for the end user, even if it is as seemingly minor as an additional click or two, and can affect the SEO, depending on how it is programmed. NN Group performed usability studies and concluded that drop down menus just annoys end users and will repel visitors from the site. When too many navigational options are offered, it provides the opportunity for end users to overlook or miss the information or product they are seeking as short term memory does not have the capacity to remember more than seven items at a time. Try limiting the number of items within the navigation to less than seven. This premise can be applied to the number of items contained within the body as well. Arrange the navigational items according to importance with the most important at the beginning of the list and the least important in the middle. End the selection options with “Contact” as this follows a standard protocol. End users have become accustomed to “Contact” being at the end of the list and moving it can cause frustration if it is not easily located (Crestodina).
Search engine optimization (SEO) ensures that the website will not be at the end of the millions of results search engines produce. Search engines have two major functions, which are crawling and indexing. When a search engine crawls, it is locating the information required, and then builds an index to easily access that information. Search engines rate this information based on popularity and relevance, using algorithms to determine the relevancy, and then ranks websites in order of popularity. Keywords and tags make this relevancy easier to identify, which triggers the algorithms of the search engines, and assists with increasing the popularity of the website. Google provides guidelines for SEO: do not create a webpage for the search engines as this misleads users, provide a clear hierarchy and text links, write pages clearly and accurately describe the content, and use keywords to effectively create human-friendly, descriptive URLs (moz.com).
As with all software, the functionality of the website must be tested before the website is released to the general public. This testing is done to ensure that all links are active, all forms provide simplicity for the user, and that all aspects of the site is easily maneuverable and loads quickly. Once the testing is completed, the site is ready for use. Testing is a step that cannot be overlooked. Major issues can be avoided by ensuring a site ready for use.
The planning and research phases of a website can be time-consuming. This can be reduced by utilizing sites such as Google Analytics to ensure the target user groups are being effectively considered. The majority of the tasks described are performed during the design phase; however, these tasks can be assigned to other members of the design team, if applicable. The Gantt chart, located below, is indicative of a sample timeline for the project of designing a user-friendly website with limited tasks shown. This chart is indicative of the length of time allocated to each aspect of the project without providing the actual overlapping tasks. In cases where a team of developers are not available, all tasks would be performed by one person, possibly resulting in a longer time frame until completion.
When websites are designed for the end user, it creates a win-win situation. The company flourishes as new business is attracted and retained and the customers are satisfied as they are able to enjoy a relatively stress-free browsing experience. In the long run, the customer should be the priority, though, and this can be achieved by alleviating as much stress as possible through customer-oriented web design.
Alexa.com. (2015). The top 500 sites on the web. Retrieved on 10 February 2015 from http://www.alexa.com/topsites.
Crestodina, Andy. (n.d.). Are you making these common website navigation mistakes? Retrieved on 09 February 2015 from https://blog.kissmetrics.com/common-website-navigation-mistakes/.
Darken, Rudolph P. & Peterson, Barry. (2001). Spatial orientation, wayfinding, and representation. Retrieved on 09 February 2015 from http://web.cs.wpi.edu/~gogo/courses/cs525V/papers/Darken_HVE_2002.pdf.
Emmerling, Bruce. (n.d.). Top 10 usability problems found in websites. Retrieved on 08 February 2015 from http://website-tutorials-review.toptenreviews.com/trust-in-a-website.html.
Erode, Nanjappan. (12 July 2014). Retrieved on 09 February 2015 from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140712160415-156949-top-10-web-usability-issues.
Griffith, Eric. (09 January 2015). Top 100 websites of 2014. Retrieved on 09 February 2015 from http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2474731,00.asp.
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Kemp, Clayton. (16 December 2014). Analyze website user behavior with google analytics. Retrieved on 09 February 2015 from http://zendenwebdesign.com/analyze-website-user-behavior-with-google-analytics/.
moz.com. (n.d.). Beginners guide to SEO. Retrieved on 10 February 2015 from http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo/how-search-engines-operate.
Ostrowercha, Lisa. (01 December 2014). What makes great web design? Retrieved on 08 February 2015 from http://www.business2community.com/digital-marketing/web-design-tips-convert-website-visitors-customers-01083110
Ruffolo, Bob. (16 July 2012). Web design tips: How to create a landing page that sells. Retrieved on 08 February 2015 from http://www.impactbnd.com/blog/landing-page-bunch. Schade, Amy. (02 March 2014). Designing for 5 tyoes of e-commerce shoppers. Retrieved on 09 February 2015 from http://www.nngroup.com/articles/ecommerce-shoppers/.
Schenker, Marc. (27 August 2014). Retrieved on 09 February 2015 from http://bootstrapbay.com/blog/web-typography-best-practices/.
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