In Unusable Web Keith Robinson tells us about his usability experience as a web user. He makes a whole lot of great points. I’d like to add a few:
- Please don’t lock out visitors who don’t use your favourite web browser. Use valid, semantic markup and your site should at least be usable to anybody. If you must, let people know that things may not look quite as you intended. But don’t tell your visitors to go away. And make damn sure to keep any browser detection scripts updated.
- Try to avoid frames. Frames can be good for web based applications, but for a public website frames tend to get in the way since they complicate printing, bookmarking and linking.
- Stay away from DHTML menus, a.k.a. “fly-out-menus” or “hierarchic menus”. Most of the time they are confusing, fragile and make your code bloated. If your boss or client won’t listen, make sure there is an alternative way to navigate the site.
- Don’t require registration. Think long and hard before requiring that your visitors register to read what you have to say. Even if registration is free, many people will go elsewhere.
Much of the frustration that comes from dealing with barely usable web sites could be avoided if more people building sites took (or were allowed to take) the time to think about how people use the web.