Design for Reading—What a Concept!

Gerry McGovern writes about design for reading in his latest issue of New Thinking. Below are a couple of snippets:

"What’s the number one thing people do on the Web? They read.

". . . When designing a website, you need to focus on two things over and above everything else:

  1. Helping the visitor find the information they need as quickly as possible.
  2. Presenting this information in the most readable format.

". . . If you want to know if your website is well designed, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How quick does it download?
  • How easy is it to navigate?
  • How well does the search work?
  • How readable is the content?"

Needless to say, I agree with Gerry about the need to design for the user and for the content. If we think about our own experiences with visiting sites and reading on the Web, we can become aware of pitfalls of some sites and the good reasons why we return to other sites.

I also enjoy watching others navigate through sites, whether my own or any site on the Web. I observe what makes sense to them, what doesn’t, what’s easy to navigate, what isn’t, what kinds of patterns that may exist across users. One’s experience using the Web makes a huge difference, too, of course. That’s not official user testing, and I don’t pretend that it is, but these continued observations over the years have helped provide me with some valuable insight.

Last week I attempted to make a purchase at a site with a horribly designed shopping cart system. It spit out errors, had problems, and I was about to give up when for some unknown reason the order actually went through.

That was only the beginning of the story, though.

A voicemail message Friday from the above company told me that they only accept MasterCard and VISA and that all the letters and spaces I’d used (huh?!) weren’t acceptable but they’d be glad to take my order over the phone if I had VISA or MasterCard. Geesh. When I call them back I’ll certainly let them know about this experience.

I also would not have been inspired to order their keyboard protectors based on their content and product photos. I went ahead only because a colleague recommended the particular keyboard protectors from that company.

So content can clearly make or break a sale, and so can a funky shopping cart.

10:21 am, pst 7 January, 2002 Comments, Trackbacks ·';}?>

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