Designing web sites for cross browser compatibility

Although most people will stick with a favorite browser to view web sites there are a multitude to chose from … Safari, Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mozilla Firefox …. and all of these have many versions

Consider browser choice with operating systems( e.g Linux Fedora Core 4, Macintosh OSX 10.4, Windows 98, Windows XP) and the different combinations grows horribly large.

As a web designer an important consideration in designing and coding a web site is how well it is going to perform across the gamut of browser and operation systems. In an ideal world all browsers would display any given web site in exactly the same way. Alas this is not the case. What may perform fabulously on Internet Explorer 6.0 may be full of flaws when viewed using Netscape 7.2.

During the development of our web sites we constantly test our code to see how it performs… testing them on a total of 53 browser/operating system combinations. This enables us to tweak our code so our web sites look good and perform as designed no matter what operating system or browser you or your site visitors are using.

Web Site Usability

How usable is your web site? This is a term you may have heard but what does it actually mean? The bottom line is web site usability is all about engaging your site visitors and can encompass a large number of issues.

For Example

  • A slow loading web site can cause visitors to “give up” before: Engagement rating a big fat zero
  • Poorly designed navigation can lean to frustration
  • Long streams of text. Reasearch from Usability expert Jakob Nielsen has shown that people read 25% slower from a computer screen that reading from paper.

For a free uability evaluation of your web site give us a call at 636 273 6746 or E-mail: IndigoImage

Readability

The usability of a web site is one of my pet subjects ..the navigation has to be intuative, the content has to be delivered in a logical user friendly way and a site has to load quickly …just a few of the issues thyat affect the usability of a site.

Another is the readabilty of the content. Compare the following 2 paragraphs …which is the more readable?

Indigo Image is a St Louis based graphic design company offering web site design and traditional graphic arts.
Indigo Image is a St Louis based graphic design company offering web site design and traditional graphic arts.

Using a dark background with light text can be an effective way of drawing the users attention to an area and in the example above this is the case. However defining a whole web site to have a dark background and light text can be very tiring on the eyes and make the content difficult to read.

It is also important to have adequate contrast between the the text and background.

Web Site Usability

I am a real advocate of web usability and not giving the surfer a mental workout as they experience a site.

Our own site www.indigoimage.com is currently going through a slight overhaul to improve usability ..our portfolio of web and graphic design projects has grown to such an extent that we need a better interface to present them.

Look for the updates early next week!

Web Design…don’t make me think

Here is a senario:-

Shopping online, you have found the perfect designer wallpaper in a St Louis based store, time to checkout..but where is the checkout button..on the top, on the side where? This is a site where the checkout button is not intuatively postioned.

Don’t make me think!

As a site visitor you are being asked to do too much visual processsing to complete your order.

Good web design is all about producing an interface which interacts with the site visitor in an intuative way. In an e-commerce site excellent and easy to use navigation is crucial. The bad positioning of a checkout button can mean a shopping cart is abandoned and a sale is lost.

Vertical scroll no no.

I have ranted before about the horizontal scroll no no… bad webdesign and coding requiring your user to scroll horizontally. Well I have a similar opnion about vertical scroll.

A certain amount of vertical scroll in a web site is acceptable and vertical scrolling is an intuative action for web users. However there is a limit.

There are some web sites out there where so much information has been stuffed onto a pages that it seems you have to scroll to the center of the earth to reach the end.

A lot of times this boils down to poor content organisation. For example a web site has a navigation button called ” Services” which leads to a single page. This is fine as long as the company offers a few services or summarizes their services in a concise way. But when they have multiple services and have everything on one pages we are entering the realm of vertical scroll no no!

A far better approach is to split the services and offer the site vistor a more user friendly way to access the information.

If your website suffers from vertical scroll no-no contact us today at info@indigoimage.com to see how your website can be better organized to give your users a headache free visit

Website usability

How many times have you visited a website with a “funky, cool” flash animation only to sit there rapidly trying to find a “skip intro” button or waiting for the animation to work itself through?

What purpose is that animation serving and how is it contributing to the usability of the website?

We create websites that focus on usability ..sites that are simple to use, easy to navigate and deliver information without making the visitor think. We combine good function with compelling design and focus on design elements which will support the message of the website not overwhelm it.

There are occasions when e.g small animation or sound byte, enhance a site and used sparingly they can be very effective, but we always ask ourselves…in using this element is it contributing to the usabilty and message of the website?

The horizontal scroll no no.

Did you know that about 30% of internet users have their monitors set at a resolution of 800 x 600 px, the majority now have their monitors set at 1024 x 768 px.

But what happens if your web site is designed at a width suitable for the majority? 30% of your visitors will have to scroll horizontally to fully view your site.ARGHH!! Horrizontal scrolling is not an intuative action of any surfer and there is no telling what important information or message they may be missing.

Until the 800 x 600 viewer statistics drastically drop we will always be designing so our web sites with optimal usability for the lowest common denominator.