Planning a usable website: A three-step guide - The web design...
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The web design company's ultimate goal is for site visitors to contact them and request their services. Wherever users are in this flow, they must be able to easily and immediately jump straight to the contact page at any point.
You've probably already seen this in action on websites. You arrive at the homepage and there are two or three prominent links (often in the form of boxes) telling you some basic information and requesting that you click on them to take you into some other part of the website. You go to that page on the website, read the information and then choose where to go next. And this keeps going on, until you either quit or complete the desired goal of the website.
So, the web design company's homepage might look something like what you see at http://www.webcredible.co.uk/images/plan-usable.gif.
The three boxes in the middle answer some immediate questions that users may have and proactively address their concerns. The contact us button on the top-left can remain in that position on every page, so users always have the opportunity to jump to the contact page.
3. Usability testing
Once the website plan has been created, it's time to test it. This is the most important usability test that needs to be done and the one that will save you the most time and money in the long run. Every £1 invested in making your website easy-to-use returns £10 to £100 (source:http://www-3.ibm.com/ibm/easy/eou_ext.nsf/Publish/23/).
If you don't do any usability testing you may discover that the structure of the website doesn't make sense once the website's up and running. This can and has happened and it leaves you with two choices: redesign the website or make a new website - neither are attractive options.
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