Professional Communication Skills (HS
Handout - Web Page Design
- Remember User Goals
- Users typically come to a site with a goal in mind. Each
link and click should meet their expectations and lead them
toward their goal. When streaming your site, have key navigation
links appear first, in case the user wants to get to another
area in the site. Emulating common GUI elements will increase
- Remember Site Goals
- Site design should reflect business or client needs, effectively
communicating the main message and promoting the brand.
Yet site goals are best achieved by respecting the user
experience, so site structure should reflect user needs,
quickly leading the user to their goal and avoiding company
or regional jargon.
- Avoid Unnecessary Intros
- While intro animations are exciting, they often delay
the user's access to the information they seek. Always offer
users either a Skip Intro command or alternative access
to your home page. On their second visit to your home page,
cookie to accomplish this) then on the destination page
give the option of returning to the animation.
- Provide Logical Navigation and Interactivity
- Keep the user oriented: Refer them to their previous location
and guide them to their next one, and remind them of where
they've been by programming links to change color after
being visited. Give them an easy exit from each major section
of the site, and an easy return to their starting point.
Clearly indicate each link's destination and keep navigation
links visible, (rather than being hidden until the user
has triggered an event). Display primary site navigation
first as Macromedia Flash streams. Make sure your buttons
have well-defined hit areas&emdash;and remember that the
browser's Back button is not a substitute for clear navigation
within your site.
- Design for Consistency
- Consistency in user interface is the best way to improve
your site's performance. Reusing architecture elements,
design elements, and naming conventions frees the user's
attention for your message while they navigate to their
goal, and it also aids site maintenance. You can use Smart
Clips to reuse interactive elements throughout the site,
and have words and images from initial navigation links
reappear on destination pages.
- Don't Overuse Animation
- Avoid unnecessary animations. The best animations reinforce
the site's goals, tell a story, or aid in navigation. Repeated
animations on text-heavy pages distract the eye from the
message of the page.
- Use Sound Sparingly
- Sound should enhance your site but not be indispensable.
For example, use sound to indicate that the user has just
triggered an event. Always provide on, off, and volume control
on screen, and remember that sound significantly increases
file size. When you do use sound, Macromedia Flash will
compress music into small MP3 files and even stream it.
- Target Low-Bandwidth Users
- The smaller the download, the better. The initial screen
download should be no more than 40k, including all Macromedia
Flash files, HTML, and images. To reduce download time,
use smaller vector-based images (unless the image is a complex
bitmap, in which case it's better left as a bitmap file),
and use the Load Movie action only when the user specifically
requests a file. If a wait is unavoidable, provide a load
time sequence with a progress indicator, and have navigation
load in the first 5 seconds whenever possible.
- Design for Accessibility
- Make your content available to all users, including those
with disabilities. Highly descriptive Alternate Tags allow
your content to be interpreted by assistive technology.
The magnifying Smart Clip for zoom is another easy-to-use
Macromedia Flash feature that allows more users to see your
content. For an in-depth discussion about making Macromedia
Flash content accessible.
- Test for Usability
- Have someone with fresh eyes test drive your site to make
sure it accomplishes both user goals and site goals. Even
compact Macromedia Flash animations can delay users from
reaching their goal, so use Macromedia Flash's built-in
Bandwidth Profiler (located in the View menu in Test Movie
mode)to analyze how well your site will perform over various
bandwidths. Re-test the site each time you make even small
changes. Make sure your site testers match the demographic
of your site's anticipated audience&emdash;especially if
the anticipated audience includes users at various levels
of comfort with site navigation.
- "We often overlook what's right in front of us. So, I
have found that reminding even the most talented design
teams of basic usability guidelines can result in substantially
more usable sites and often time better looking sites."