Copyright Beaver 2000/2003
So now people know about the site and start to visit. Step one completed. However internet users, both business and consumer, are fickle and studies show how easily they become bored if they can not quickly find what they want, leading them to "click off" to the next site on the list. So you need to ensure having got the user to the site you hang on to them. Outlined below are some basic rules to ensure you have an acceptable site, not just the contents, be that the text and graphics, but the mechanics of the site and how the user perceives the site;
do any of your target visitors have any special needs that the site design must cater for - large text or do they need a site that they can convert to speech, as used by visually or mobility impaired? Does it meet the Cast-Bobby criteria?
site navigation must be good and be simple, conforming to general principles, or visitors will not know what to do, although ideally if they have arrived by a search engine, they came on to the site via door way and are on a relevant page. If they did not they must be able to find there way to where they want to be, without knowing what's on the site or its layout to start with! Even if they come via a door way to a relevant page they may wish to explore the site further. So can users navigate round easily? A rule is maximum of 3-4 clicks to get to what they want destination and ensure pages are not too long or a mass of text with no navigation structure that can quickly be seen from the start of the page. Can users do this on your site? Do you know how a user would behave given they do not know the site structure? Design your site and page navigation structure well. Beaver gained its navigation experience in working on command-control-information system desks where the user had a large number of screens presenting different information and functions.
is the site compatible to support various non PC browsers and operating system users, are your users likely to access via methods such as TV, WAP, and PDA's? You may also need to design back end delivery content systems that means you input information once and it is formatted to feed various these devices, so minimising data duplication tasks and infrastructure costs.
what is the sites availability, are the servers and communications links often down, or overloaded causing access requests to be declined or time-out due to the number of simultaneous users and file transfer sizes described above?
are the links on each page working and are graphics, sounds and other site element files present and working within acceptable loading times? As time passes the integrity of a site links and files decrease as changes are made in an uncontrolled manner. This is why to day many sites have links that are broken and graphics that are missing, leaving blank boxes, with no alternative text.
The lesson is that to retain customers on your site and avoid premature click off's you need an optimised site in terms of infrastructure such as the servers and internet communications channel with highly available power supplies and building access security, as well as good web page code. Remember, if they visited once and clicked off they are unlikely ever to visit again, but make the site usable, and they come back, and also are likely to tell friends and associates.
Link here to return to Beavers main web site evolution page or here to read about how you can find out how many site visitors you have, where they come from, what they do on your site, and how to use this information in your business planning.