Top 10 Design Mistakes: #9

20 Jun 2010

Continuing my series of top web design mistakes that are often made by web developers, lets dive into number 9.

#9 – Hansel & Gretel would need bread crumbs to find their way!

Have you ever visited a site where you’re not quite sure what you’re supposed to do once you land on the site?  Or that as your surfing around, without using the back button in your browser, you can’t get back to where you were before?

There are a couple of ways to look at this when you think about building navigation on your sites.

  • What are the actions you want visitors or users of your site to take?
  • What’s the work flow for what they’re going to need to do?
  • If there’s something you want them to read or learn about, are you making that easy to find?
  • Is the navigation around your site easy to use and easy to find?

Are you making those options easy for them to find and accomplish?

The Offenders

http://lesailes.hermes.com/us/en/

Hermes

Now maybe the problem is that I’m not exactly the target audience for Hermes, about the only thing I know about them is from The Devil Wears Prada, and that they make silk scarves, but I’m sure they do more than that.  So I figured I’d visit their site to see if I could learn more.  When the site loads, it shows me a really pretty Flash experience, and then there’s a whole bunch of tiles that I think I’m supposed to click on, but once I do, I don’t know what the actions that I’m supposed to take are.  After spending some time on the site, I really don’t know anything more about Hermes than I did before!  Give it a shot, try clicking on the any of the tiles, what are you supposed to do?

http://www.genicap.com/Site/

GenicapA friend of mine emailed me a while ago with with a link to this site.  His question to me what what they heck does this company do?  We both spent way too much time trying to understand the point of the site, what are they trying to sell or do?

There’s a bunch of text at the bottom of the screen that talks about some stuff that I don’t really understand, and the image tiles across the page, while pretty don’t really help me understand what they do.  As it turns out, this company makes ray tracing tools, but I can’t find any way to purchase or learn more about their tools!

Best Practice Suggestions

  • Figure out the actions you want users to take when they visit your site, do you make those actions easy to find and easy to accomplish?
  • Make it easy to learn about you’re the point of your site – put the mission statement or other important information on the home page of your site.
  • Before starting to design your site, create a consistent navigation plan that you can implement across your site.  Make it easy for folks to find what they’re looking for without having to rely on search to find what they want.

Summary

If you don’t have a good understanding of what you want your visitors to do or if you make it hard to find, users aren’t going to be able to do it.  The navigation on your site needs to be consistent, and easy to follow.

Don’t Forget: If I pick on your website, I apologize! It’s meant as a learning opportunity for both of us, and I’m happy to help you move from my offending list, to my best practices list! I’ve only shared a few of my favorites in this blog post, and there are plenty more out there! What are some of your favorites? Leave your favorite offending sites in the your comments! For designers who may be reading, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments! What bugs you, what makes your life hard when working with web developers?

[UPDATE 06/21/2010 9:34am PST] As I was reading my favorite blogs this morning, I came across a post about 9 Usability and UX Pitfalls, and How To Avoid Them and one of the sites they listed, was the Hermes site - looks like I’m not the only one to not get it!