One of the components of Web design usability is that users be able to easily find what they want on your site. Below are some guidelines for increasing usability.
These tips are designed to help users move between pages.
Note: The home page is the page you design to be the introduction to your site.
- Include your name on every page, preferably in the header.
- Always include a way to return to the portfolio home page on each page of your portfolio. This link should be on the same location on each page.
- Include a link to your portfolio from your personal home page
- Include links to most of your pages on your home page
- Use more pages with shorter content rather than one page with a lot of text. Users may not scroll down the entire page.
- Make sure links are underlined and in a different color from the rest of your text.
- Use the same design elements for all portfolio pages. Switching between very different styles and colors can be disorienting.
- Format pages so that there are margins (i.e. white space) on each side of the page.
- Check color contrast of your pages.
Working on writing the correct link text may seem trivial, but viewers rely on links to navigate and understand your Web site, and, most importantly, to find the content on your site. Some usability experts define link quality as “information scent” and the better the scent, the more likely visitors are to explore your site.
Navigation vs Content Links
Most Web sites actually have two kinds of links – navigation links and specific links within a content page. Navigation links help viewers find all the pages on your site and are generally placed to the sides, top or bottom. Content links are placed in the middle of other text on a page.
Tips for Content Links
- Avoid links that say “Here” or “Click Here”. These destinations are vague (particulalry since most readers scan the Web) and often hard to spot because they are small.
- Indicate a specific destination or document – For instance, it’s preferable to write "See my Teaching Philosophy page" rather than "Click here to read my teaching philosophy."
- Use a different color for links – Most Web sites use a different color for links, so visitors look for a color change to indicate a link.
Tips for Navigation Links
The good news about navigation links is that you can exercise some formatting creativity, but remember to:
- Include a core set of navigation on each page.
- Format the navigation links differently from the content links.
- Add an ALT text description for uploaded image files. This is by those unable to see the image.
- Warn users if a link is going to a multimedia file, Powerpoint file, PDF file, Word file or anything other than a simple Web page. For instance, you can label a link as a "PDF" link if it goes to a PDF file.
- If you upload a Powerpoint or audio file, describe the contents before you ask users to download it. A screen capture of a Powerpoint page is especially helpful.
- Consider converting Word files to PDF files if you are using complex fonts or formatting. Not all users may have the same fonts, and downloads of Word files vary from browser to browser.
Note: PDF conversion utilities, including Adobe Acrobat, are available in all CLC lab machines. Often they are found as one of the available "printers."