Today I want to write about something, not really related to weddings, but more about website usability. I try to design my website(s) to meet certain objectives. Objectives that I think are important as they will achieve the purpose of my website.
That’s a lot of talk for simply saying; My websites are created with a purpose and with the end user/customer/bride in mind.
So what are 3 of the many objectives IÂ have?
- The Website Should Load Fast
- The Website should answer some of the common questions brides/users may have
- The website should be easy to operate/navigate
All three were analyzed when I started creating my website and put through some brainstorming to find the best way to achieve those, and many more objects, or goals. Besides, these are objectives that you would think people would have enough common sense to realize the purpose of a website.
1. Your Website Should Load Fast
Let me ask you something, do you really have time to wait for over 60 boring seconds of the words “LOADING” flashing in your screen? If you do wait for that long, don’t you want to see something mind boggling, something different, something unique, something you have never seen or experienced before? Waiting builds anticipation, so if you make someone wait that long, it better be something amazing… not something that we’ve all seen before.
Besides, these are the times of fast, expedient, easy, and quick. Nobody is going to sit there and wait long for a website to load. They just assume it doesn’t work and move on to the next one.
Common sense should tell you that and you would be surprised how many people load their front page with thousands of images and useless junk that you, the user or bride, really don’t care for.Â Don’t get me wrong, I think images and flash are important, but they are best used to supplement a point, or even to showcase some of your favorite work.
The first page should load as fast as possible, then if you want to interest your users on a lot of images, clearly label a link on the menu that says, gallery, pictures or something where the user understands that if he or she clicks on that link, she will need more than a few seconds of her time. Even then, there should be fast-loading thumbnails of the pictures so that he/ she can browse through all of them and only magnify the ones they want to see… Now doesn’t that make sense and doesn’t that sound like a better user experience? I believe in giving users options, but not to many that may confuse them.
The Website Should Answer Common Questions
The internet is know as the “Information Super Highway” for a reason. People are looking for information. A picture is worth a thousand words, but can you really communicate what you need with pictures? Hmm… Maybe, but you have to be a great, amazing, one-of-a-kind artist to be able to pull that off. Or you could be lazy and just put your favorite pictures on the website and HOPE your users understand what you are trying to say.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but the user selects the words, not the website designer.
The best way to communicate with your user or bride, is to tell them directly (with words, a video, audio or plain text) what you want them to know about your business or services. Again, doesn’t that sound like common sense? Now, I know it takes more time to sit there, think about some of the things your users might be looking for, and address those concerns in a tactful manner. I know, I do it and it takes time, but it is worth the investment.
They are on your website to, at the comfort of their own home, workplace, or time, find out about your services; to see if what you have to offer is what they are looking for. To carefully consider everything you can do for them without you being there to pressure them into a decision they may regret. That’s freedom, who doesn’t want that?
The Website Should be Easy to Operate/Navigate
One of my pet peeves is confusion. I hate being confuse. I refuse to make a decision if I do not understand what I am making a decision on. I hate not being able to go to the main page at any given point. I hat not knowing where I am, inside a website. It’s annoying and it makes me want to leave the website and find another one. There really is not much to say about this. That is very common sense.
Along with navigation, you have to let your users operate your website. Most people don’t use any search features of a website, but for the few that want to, I think it’s important to provide that. Or if they want to contact you, allow them the ease of providing your email address where they can copy and paste it or simply click on it to open your email program. Additionally, you want to add a contact form so that they can quickly contact you about your services.
This article was inspired after searching around the internet for my local competition of Wedding DJs in Houston. Nobody has a perfect website, my own website has many flaws, but some of the ones I found, you literally had to sit there around 5 minutes for the website to load (I am on a T2, business internet connection, it’s ‘hella-fast’) only to be dissapointed in what I saw (pictures), some copied the exact text from other websites, some were confusing to use, some had links to pages that didn’t exist, some came up on the search engines and landed on old pages that had been removed, some had no information to offer the brides/users, some had grammar errors, … and so on.
Common sense things that should be avoided at any cost, especially if you are going to portray your business as a Professional Service.
The first thing anybody and everybody should understand that a website, for the most part, is a marketing tool, it’s a representation of you, your products or services, and should be done properly to help you sell your products and services.