If you are looking for a Top 10 List of Website Best Practices, this isn’t it.
It is a modified version of an email I sent someone who asked for feedback on their website. Their request consisted of 14 words, including the URL. I sent back just over 1200. I credit/blame 15+ years in the industry and an insane attention to detail.
If the following things were specific to that website, this wouldn’t be a very helpful blog post. But these are things I see over and over again, so therefore it could be a helpful blog post. And J.T. Turner>> asked.
heidi2524’s Not-A-Top-10-List of Website Suggestions
44. Make any transition times on animations faster than slower
I’m specifically talking about the amount of time it takes to go from one image/message to another, not how long that image/message displays. Ideally whatever you are using to create your website will let you control those values independently of each other. People don’t want to sit and watch one image fade into another. They do want enough time to see what the image is and read any related copy.
57. Significant information should be found on every page of the website
If the website is for a conference or event, the significant info is the name, date, and location. If the website represents a person (e.g., author, artist, services provider), the significant info is the name – you can also add a tagline or classification/qualifier to create a link in the user’s mind between the person’s name and what they are known for/want to be remembered for.
52. Make links obvious
A website is not print. A webpage contains actionable areas that people won’t know are interactive unless you somehow show them. A lot of themes or pre-made websites will be beautifully designed … and use various shades of grey for link colors. On this website, I had to change the active link color and I’m still trying to figure out where to change the hover link and visited link colors. I understand that underlining links is not considered good design, but people not being about to click around your website is not good usability. If your heading style is not obviously a link, then put an obvious link into the copy under that heading. If you don’t want to mess with changing the link color, use your words to make the links on the website obvious to the user.
52.1 Write descriptive link copy
“Click here” is obvious in terms of copy, but it doesn’t do much for the stuff involved with search engine ranking. Write copy that tells the user about the destination page and make those words the link. May or may not be a complete sentence, your call.
OK: Click here to read more.
BETTER THAN OK: Learn more about the conference schedule.
ALSO BETTER THAN OK: Schedule details
70. Add some social/share icons
This website uses the Shareaholic WordPress plugin>> Easy to install and configure on a WordPress website. I used to be on Twitter and now spend my social time on Facebook>> and I’m not on Google+ or Pinterest or Tumblr. I still have those social icons on my website because social icons aren’t about where you spend your social time, it’s about where your website users spend their social time. I want to make it as easy as possible for the people who come to my site to spread the word about it, whether they use the same social network as I do nor not.
14. Crosslink your webpages
The right column on a lot of template websites is a great place to do this. Every webpage should have some kind of global navigation so the user can get to the main sections of your website any time they want. Help users find subpages by crosslinking to them in your main body copy and from callouts in side columns. On this site, I’m not using side columns, so I have the crosslinks in the three widgets under the main content.
30. If you have a blog, make sure people can get to it
This website has a bunch of static pages (e.g., iPad Apps) and a blog. None of the posts show up on the Home page because I know me and I’m not dedicated to providing blog posts on a regular schedule, or even a timely one. There is still a dedicated callout to the blog (cool samurai dude), and a blog link in the PAGES widget under the main content that displays on every page. A lot of websites will display posts on the Home page and that’s great … just make sure if the user is on some other page on your website (because they may have come to your website through a search link and not yet seen your Home page) that they can still get to the first page of your blog.
82. If you are selling something, clearly communicate the different prices all the time
“Early Bird” prices are fabulous, especially if you tell the user what the higher regular/standard price is. That let’s them compare and gives them more information to make a decision. You probably give more information about the pricing differences and benefits on a “detail” page, but any page that shows that Early Bird price should include the regular/standard price as well.
44. Links to important content areas go up top.
Any important part of your website that you want users to visit should be in the header or global navigation or a callout that exists on every page. Some people use fat/expanded/super/[latest buzz word] footers to provide a ton of crosslinks, and that can work. But you shouldn’t rely only on a footer link to get people to something you really want them to see.
53. Use images of people as appropriate
For personal website, that would be a picture of you, especially if you go out into the world to places where other people would want to know what you look like so they could get together with you (e.g., conventions, conferences, meetups). For a conference or event, that would be pics of your guests.
38. Be consistent in your vocabulary
Especially if you’re selling something. Always refer to the product/event/whatever using the same words throughout your website. This is not the time to drag out the thesaurus and find alternate words. The user is relying on you to explain what this website is about, so don’t confuse them by saying there is a ebook on one page, an electronic book on another page, and a mobi book on another page when you are talking about the same thing. Also [begin pet peeve], be consistent in your treatment of words. Always ebook or e-book, not ebook on this page and e-book on that page. [/end pet peeve]
So, yeah. Done. For now. And it’s still just over 1200 words.
– Random numbers for this Not-A-Top-10-List of Website Suggestions provided by http://www.random.org>>.
– Ideally the images in your blog post relate to your copy and aren’t just stuck in there to break up the large amount of words and make it prettier to scroll through like this blog post did