3 usability mistakes you should absolutely avoid on your website

June 13, 2011 | by

The web is a fast-changing environment and this has led to numerous new technologies and standards being exhaustively used in websites. While the process of creating a website used to be rather awkward a long time ago and you needed access to a pool of talent to set up a magnificent website, the tools and technologies readily available these days have made the creation of websites an extremely straight-forward process. This has of course led to many people putting up their own websites within days, and many of these have actually gone on to be quite successful.

However, old habits die hard, and in spite of its viciously rapid changes, the web is not that different. There are many mistakes that are done on a foolishly consistent basis and that create frustrating usability issues, and many people keep making these same mistakes over and over again. It is hard to fault them though since they are persisting with their mistakes mainly due to a lack of properly knowledge. Squash your fears though, as this article describes just what you have been doing wrong all these years and tells you should you should not do them.

Opening external links in new windows

Opening external links in new windows is something everybody’s been guilty of at one point. The basis for doing so is fairly simple. Webmasters tend to open other websites in new windows as they fear that their visitors will not come back once they have moved on to the other website. This is extremely annoying because it can completely break the user’s browsing history, and many visitors will hate the fact that a brand new window has opened (which of course requires an extra click to close).

Ironically, this is even more annoying now that mobile computing is so popular. Opening new windows can be extremely frustrating on mobile devices, which obviously operate differently from traditional computers. This is why you should always open all your links in the same window regardless of the link type. If someone wants to resume browsing your website after clicking on an external link, it is safe to assume that they will indeed know how to do so.

Using different layouts across different pages

This is another huge mistake that arose due to people’s belief that the only thing that matters in website is the ability to surprise. However, keep in mind that people do not actually like surprises, especially those that will make them lose their bearing. This is why you should stick to the same layout across a single website. Obviously, having a few differences to highlight important sections can be done, but suddenly switching from a two-column layout to a three-column one just because you wanted to insert a few sections on a particular page is bound to drive your visitors crazy.

Having one big chunk of content

This mistake is also very popular, and it unfortunately seems that it will not change anytime soon as many webmasters fail to understand that the web is not the same as a book. Simply put, if your paragraph is 15 sentences long, nobody is going to want to read it unless they take the trouble of printing it (which you already know has very little chances of actually happening). Keep in mind that attention span on the web is quite low, and you will understand why it is so important to present your content properly. Content is the king online, but readable content is even better.

Ashvin Sawmynaden is a blogger and Mauritius Newspapers author who writes on various topics such as website usability and traveling. His latest work is the Grand Anse attraction review, one of the most popular sites in Reunion.


View all

view all