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When it comes to building websites that work well for your visitors, there are unfortunately very few best practices. Every website, every audience, every person is different and has varying expectations.
However, there are some mistakes in website design that get repeated time and again. In this article we’re going to run through some common web design choices that could be causing your visitors issues, and looking at what you can do to improve on these areas.
Perhaps the biggest offender is the carousel (or slider, as it’s sometimes known). This is such a common design choice that many people still use them without giving it much thought.
But the evidence tells us that we should avoid using carousels. Why? Because visitors don’t use them. A better solution, and one that we always advise our clients, is to forgo the carousel for a single, strong statement on your homepage. No hidden content that the visitor has to find, no extra content to write, and a simpler page for the visitor to engage with.
Here are some sources to back up that advice: http://shouldiuseacarousel.com
Dropdown hover menus
Some websites have lots of content, and categorising that content so that it is easy to access can be really tough. Often, the solution is to put secondary-level content into a dropdown or hover menu.
This is usually fine for most visitors, but hover menus are lousy for accessibility. For visitors who may have dexterity problems or subject to muscle spasms in the arms or hands, hover menus can make accessing that content very tricky.
People with reduced dexterity, such as tremors, often have trouble operating fly-out menus. For some, it might be impossible.W3C
A better solution is to create a second menu that is visible at all times on your sub-pages to ensure all your visitors can access all your content without any trouble.
Videos that auto-play can be annoying, especially if you are viewing the website on a mobile connection and it begins to eat up your data. Videos that auto-play with sound are the worst offenders.
As a rule, let visitors control audio and video content, as not to burden them with unnecessary media overheads. Videos are media files such as movies and adverts and are designed to be interacted with by the visitor, so let them click the play button in their own time.
Unless your content management system is specifically configured, uploading pictures directly from your phone or digital camera can cause problems. This is because they may not be compressed, and as such might be very large, both in proportions and file size.
Large image files take a loooong time to download, and as well as keeping the visitor waiting, will be eating up their data.
Always compress large images to make them smaller in file size, and quicker for the visitor’s device to load. Most content management systems like WordPress have plugins available to deal with this.