1. No Structure
What am I suppose to do here? How can I do that?
How the user will know what kind of site they’ve landed on is dependant on the structure. Is this a blog, a store, or a portfolio? Each of these forms have their own unique structures that people recognize. A list of products and a shopping cart signifies that you can make purchases. Knowing what to put where requires a lot of planning and that pre-production process is often taken for granted. Developing a good hierarchy of information will ensure that the most important information reaches the user first and that the user is less likely to be bogged down by things they don’t need immediately.
2. No Consistency
What am I looking at? Where did that button go? What page is this again?
When a site lacks consistency the user can get lost very easily. When we learn something we put that model in our brains and reference it to help us navigate other similar situations. When a web site arbitrarily has a different structure on every page the user can’t apply what they’ve previously learned to guide them but instead has to expend precious brain power to figure it out again. In a world where attention spans are short you really can’t afford to send your users on a loop. The less effort required for the user to achieve their goal the more likely they will get a satisfying and rewarding experience on your site. Consistency doesn’t mean just keeping crucial elements in the same areas among different pages it also mean being aware of excepted/expected web conventions.
3. Poor Navigation
I know what I want but how do I get there from here?
Navigation isn’t just a bar on the top of your site its a train track and it determines which stops your users will be making. If your users need to quickly get from station A to station F they won’t want to stop as B, C, D, or E every single time. A poorly designed navigation system is one that doesn’t account for the user’s needs, so step one is to learn about your user. Study them like lab rats if you must, put them through your site and get as much information as you can. I am an impatient person so if I can’t immediately get where I need to go I usually seek out the next alternative and more often than not it will be your competitor.
4. Too Complicated
Too much, too fast, all of the time and everywhere!
There is nothing more frustrating than getting to a site and being instantly bombarded with a million different things. I know you may have a lot of important information to convey but do it gradually. Your brain can only process a finite amount of information at one time so if you overload someone they won’t be able to digest any information and they will just tune out. Sometimes it may be a good idea to treat your information as if it were top secret and everyone is on a “need to know basis.” Just tell me what I need to know now so I can do what it is I want to do on your site.
5. No Consideration for Text
Whoa! Watch out for that wall of text!
Want to stop someone dead in their tracks? It’s simple just build an impenetrable wall of text. As I’ve mentioned before internet dwellers have short attention spans so everything you present them has to be easily accessible especially text. Your attention and focus is an investment so don’t just expect people to be interested in what you have to say right off the bat and don’t expect people to read everything (or anything) on your site. Make your message as concise as possible, use legible fonts with good contrast and you will have a good baseline to work with.