Consistency . This comes up a lot, you may even say it consistently appears. The more a website works the same every
time the more the user feels comfortable with a design. If a user is taken mysteriously to another page, that looks foreign from the original, this trust is broken and they will question the experience.
The user must feel in control at all times. Inconsistencies just lower the perception of quality.
Place your name and logo on every page of your site. Make the link back to the homepage when on an internal page.
About Us Photograph . When I see a photo of the real person or team of people on an about us page I feel like I am getting to know them and trust them more. How do I know it is real? I don’t, but I like to think that it isn’t that hard to tell the difference from a stock photo and a genuine picture. This really applies to small businesses or bloggers, but can be used anywhere there is an about page. While you are at it, keep it up to date.
High Quality Photography . When you are selling and need to showcase products, use the best quality photographs you can. User can not touch and feel your product like the may be able to in a store so detailed close-ups and large images help. Use screen shots for service or software.
Text/Writing. Words are meant to be read. Making text size small may look good to a certain degree but ultimately hurts when trying to read. Contrast is very important, if it is low then eye strain is an issue. An interesting study done by Alyson L. Hill from Department of Psychology of Stephen F. Austin [State University] on Readability Of Websites With Various Foreground/Background Color Combinations , Font Types And Word Styles points out these issues.
Spell checking should be done always, as well as the correct use of grammar and formatting. Here is Jakob Nielsen’s research on the subject of writing for the web .
Jakob Nielsen’s Useit.com addresses the issue of Usability for Senior Citizens. Eyesight and lack of simplicity is something that makes most websites unapproachable to seniors. Remember that older people are the fastest-growing group of Internet users.
The image to the left is an example from a Breville product of text that is a bit small, thus hard to read. It would be much easier to read a point or two larger.
The look and design is clean and very nice aside from the legibility issue, but it is also done in Flash so it can’t be enlarged within the browser.
Navigation . This goes back to consistency. When a user comes to your page, article or site they are coming in from all the other pages, articles or sites out there. If you are selling do no deviate from them that much.
Do not reinvent a websites navigation. If the user has to figure out how to move around within a site you have lost. Keep it on the top or the sides,but don’t make someone figure out how to navigate your site or you will surely lose them in seconds. Let them know where they can go and where they have been using breadcrumb trails and site map.
Whitespace. If you look at the design or layout of any luxury or high end brand you will see whitespace. Designers use this to create room to guide the viewer’s or user’s eyes around the various elements. If all the content is cluttered or cramped together it looks cheaper and low quality.
Design By Hümans , where you will find unique high-end t-shirts designed by artists from around the world, has a great showcasing of how the empty space helps the flow and leads the eye. Also look at the prominent placing and size of the price.
When a design uses whitespace effectively it allows for precise placement of products/words making the user/viewers job that much easier in getting the main idea. For further reading on whitespace visit this article from A List Apart.
Use of email . Let a user know how you will be using their email. Let them know you will not be spamming them or selling them out to another party. People are cautious to give out an email, so reassure them. Of course you can fool someone into giving you their email, but that is short-term thinking and will surely cripple your brand and ruin any long-term relationship.
Avoid Welcome Pages/Pop Up’s . Limit the amount of clicks it takes for the user to get to the reason they are there. If I have to wait 15 seconds for a page to load or have to decide if I want to view the site in HTML or Flash I usually leave, or pick the HTML version.
Avoid Gibberish . Don’t weigh down the user/reader with all this scientific mumbo jumbo, unless that is the service. Talk like your target market or crowd you are going after. I would rather read something that feels comfortable and familiar than cold and distant. If you have to hunt for a word in the thesaurus, it is the wrong word to use.
Avoid the Unnecessary. Blinking text or flashing colors are annoying. If that is the only way you think you can direct the user you are doing more harm then good.
Music should be controlled by the user at all times. If you have content that starts automatically this can deter someone to leave, instead have the user control the experience by being able to start or stop music or video.
Does that window really need to pop up?Can that information be given some other way? The moment I see a pop-up I tend to close it before I can see what it is.
Avoid Hiding Information . When a price or an essential piece of information isn’t given you break a connection. We all know Amazon and how all the information is easy to see without digging.