What Works For Users
The art and science of designing websites for users has evolved significantly in the last 20 years thanks to the contributions of Jakob Nielsen, Gord Hotchkiss and the real world lessons of tens of thousands of designers, conversion optimizers and site owners who have observed user behavior and tested and validated different theories that enrich the body of knowledge about user interactions with the web in general and search users in particular. What has emerged is a set of best practices, usability conventions which are ignored at your peril.
What works for users and for search engines is a site that recognizes an F shaped scanning pattern that users employ to decide if the page is relevant — in less than three seconds. Users will rarely engage with the site navigation if the “main” area of the landing page doesn’t match the search intent. Scent should be presented in easy to read text with high contrast above the first graphic on the page. If the scent is not delivered in that time frame, the user will hit the back button and “bounce” from the site.
- Delivering clear information scent that matches the search intent
- Structured content with headings and short paragraphs
- Bulleted content
- The judicious use of bold text
- Flash based sites, fancy formatting and very large images present obstacles for users and search engines.