Determining User Preference

In addition to the various levels of experience that visitors have, everyone has his own preferences for how he wants to view your web pages. How do you please them all? The truth is, you can't. But you can give it your best shot. Part of good web design is anticipating what visitors want to see on your site. This becomes more difficult if the topics you discuss on your site are of interest to a wider audience.

You'll notice that each person in our fictitious family needs to see the Web differently. Sometimes this is due to his or her interests, but other times it's because of special needs. Therein lies the key to anticipating what you'll need on your web pages.

A topic such as "Timing the Sparkplugs on Your 300cc Motorcycle Engine" is of interest to a more select audience. It will attract only those who are interested in motorcyclesmore specifically, those who want to repair their own motorcycles. It should be relatively easy to anticipate the types of things these visitors would like to see on your site. Step-by-step instructions can guide them through each process, while images or multimedia can display techniques that are difficult to describe using text alone.

"The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World," on the other hand, will attract students of all ages as well as their teachers. Archaeologists, historians, and others with an interest in ancient history also might visit the site. Now you have a wider audience, a wider age range, and a wider range of educational levels. It won't be quite as easy to build a site that will please them all.

In cases such as this, it might help to narrow your focus a bit. One way is to design your site for a specific user group, such as the following:

  • Elementary school students and their teachers This site requires a very basic navigation system that's easy to follow. Content should be basic and very easy to read. Bright, colorful images and animations can help keep the attention of young visitors.

  • High school students and their teachers You can use a slightly more advanced navigation system. Multimedia and the latest in web technology will keep these students coming back for more.

  • College students and their professors A higher level of content is necessary, whereas multimedia may be less important. An online encyclopedia format might be a good approach here.

  • Professional researchers and historians This type of site probably requires pages that are heavier in text content than multimedia.

It's not always possible to define user groups for your website, so you'll need to start with your own preferences. Survey other sites that include similar content. As you browse through them, ask yourself what you hope to see there. Is the information displayed well? Is there enough help on the site? Does the site have too much or too little multimedia? If you can get a friend or two to do the survey along with you, it helps you get additional feedback before you start your own site. Take notes and incorporate those ideas into your own web pages.

After you design some initial pages, ask your friends, family members, and associates to browse through your site and pick it apart. Keep in mind that when you ask others for constructive criticism, you might hear some things that you don't want to hear. However, this process is important because you'll often get many new ideas on how to improve your site even more.

Sams Teach Yourself Web Publishing with HTML and CSS in One Hour a Day
Sams Teach Yourself Web Publishing with HTML and CSS in One Hour a Day (5th Edition)
ISBN: 0672328860
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2007
Pages: 305

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