I was sitting around last night, idly browsing the net, whilst discussing with my flatmate whether the new James Bond film was likely to be any good, but eventually the conversation moved on and somehow we found ourselves talking about the internet way-back-when.
It was fun talking about the old days of Netscape and old search engines like Lycos and AltaVista. Remembering when pictures where all pixelated and loaded line by line over a dial up modem connection. You paid by the minute and you’d lose your connection whenever one of your sister’s annoying friends tried to call.
Even more than the dial up woes, the thing that we decided really got up our noses back then, was how difficult it was to find anything and how awful usability could be. To be fair the internet was a new frontier and it was difficult given the technological restrictions to make a great looking and easy to navigate website. There was a lot of experimenting and evolving to be done.
It can be hard to recall what website’s used to look like back in the 90s, as they have changed incrementally over a long period of time, but if you want to refresh your memory I suggest having a look on the internet archive Way Back When Machine.
Looking at old cached versions of apple.com certainly raised a chuckle, although even back then it was one of the easier sites to navigate.
Anyway, we were casting our eyes over mtv.com circa 1998, perhaps more for the old content than anything else, but there was one usability issue that was really getting on my nerves and that was the fact that there was no bread crumb navigation. There was no easy way to get backwards and forwards through the content, just the back and forward buttons on my browser. It seems so funny that the idea of making sure people knew where they were on a site’s hierarchy wasn’t an obvious given, even then.
Site usability is a discipline that has always been around, in a way, but in recent times it’s being taken a lot more seriously, and so it should.
A designer of a site knows which pictures are links and which pictures aren’t. Young people know blue underlined text is hypertext, but my granny probably doesn’t (sorry gran if you do know about hypertext), but the point is, website designers can’t afford to be abstruse. Websites need to be intuitive and easy to navigate, if they’re not your visitors might go elsewhere.
Usability is not just about making the website more user friendly, it’s about making the experience more enjoyable and interesting, which will in turn hopefully encourage people to return and share the experience. If your website is an ecommerce site thinking about your sites usability can increase hits, increase conversions and most importantly increase revenue.
Author Bio:- Bob Runnels writes for a digital marketing agency, and as such has a wide knowledge when it comes to a range of topics, including website usability.