Creating a website that is attractive, easy to use and feature-rich is not easy. If you want to make sure that your visitors love using your website, then you must focus on creating a good user experience. Before you start working on mark-up or code, think about what you want your users to do and how you will facilitate those actions.
Use White Space Generously
White space is a useful web design tool. Many well-meaning designers assume that it is best to try to fit as much information as possible onto the user’s screen. This usually backfires by leading to a cluttered and confusing screen with lots of small interface elements positioned far too close together.
White space has a much better effect. Users are less likely to miss-click on navigation options if they are large, clearly visible and not positioned too close together. In addition, featured products, ads, or calls to action are more likely to be noticed if they are the biggest and most prominent thing on the screen.
Stick to Common Conventions
While web designers do have a lot of freedom to experiment with new and interesting looks on their sites, there are some rules that users expect all sites to follow. For example, the blue and underlined hyperlink is still a staple of the web today and most users expect search boxes to appear in the upper-right corner of a website. Follow these conventions if you do not want to alienate and confuse your users. Consider making a Sharepoint design template that clearly shows where you want key page elements to appear and what they should look like.
Provide Lots of Feedback
It is a good idea to give your users lots of feedback. Make it obvious when something is clickable, or if hovering over an item on your page will do something. In addition, offer information about what is going on when you’re processing a command. If you expect a search to take more than a second or two, or know that a page will take a long time to load for most users, tell the user what is going on.
Even a simple “loading” message or a spinning cursor will help the user to understand that their commands have had an effect. Failing to give feedback will confuse your users and may lead to them clicking a button several times or re-loading the page, wasting their time and your server resources.
Remember that your users could be accessing your website via a smartphone, a tablet PC, or a desktop. Test your user experience on as many different devices as possible. You may be surprised at the number of things that break, or behave strangely, on older mobile devices.
Whether you choose to use a Sharepoint design or opt for a website based on open source technologies, you must make usability a priority. Use a good source control and collaboration tool to ensure a uniform look and feel for all elements of your website.