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Do You Make These Costly Web Site Mistakes?

On occasion we can do things that make our web site harder to use.  In Mark Pearrow’s The Usability Handbook, he outlines some commons causes that adversely impact web site usability. What starts as a small usability issue can grow into a larger problem. Most web sites can be successful without being completely usable.  Yet, the piling up of small usability problems can have a negative impact a web site’s performance and bottom line.  Are you making any of the following common mistakes?

Getting too Technical
When you’re in the technology industry it is very easy to get caught up in the "latest and greatest." Many Web developers and site owners focus too much on technological "bells and whistles." It might be an interactive calendar that is packed with features that nobody understands how to use. Technology tends to get complex. It is imperative to know your web site user and design for them. If you want great examples go and check out Google or Yahoo. Both companies have amazing technology behind them, yet use a very simple facade. Keep things as simple as possible and focus on making the user experience as painless as possible.

“Someone” Centric Web Design
Geeks speak techno terms and humans speak human.  Graphic designers are highly creative, yet their design might be above the user’s understanding (artsy-fartsy).  If Geeks and Graphic Designers don’t design for the user your web site can quickly leave the user dazed and confused.  Users aren’t going to embrace confusing or difficult to use web sites. This happens when a company tries to present information in corporate terms.  Bring it to the user’s level. Create a web site that focuses on the user’s ego in both verbiage and design.

Not By Chance
Usable web sites don’t happen by chance.  They are usually a result of a well thought design combined with a smart web strategy.  Too many companies approach their web site with the “if you build it, they will come” attitude.  The most successful web sites embrace an Edisonian approach.  Successful web sites are always testing and evaluating their progress.  The web is not a fire and forget environment. You must always seek to understand and evolve, or else you will never be successful online.

Decision Makers
There are too many times when the wrong people within a company are making crucial decisions about a web site. Yes, this even includes upper management. Ego can quickly destroy any web site. The number one decision maker regarding web site policy is the web site user. Get into your user's psyche. You can also learn a great deal from looking at you web stats. I cannot think of one successful web site that isn't catering to the user.

Poor web usability doesn’t happen because of just one thing.  It is the combination of small things that add up.  Keep the issues in check to ensure your site is usable.

Source: Pearrow, Mark. The Web Site Usability Handbook.

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