What YOUR Readers Want in a Website

Earthmom Designs has interviewed over 5000 people who frequently surf the internet and asked them what they wanted to see in a website. Most people do not want a lot of bells and whistles or moving things on a website. They want the information they came there to get presented in a clear and readable fashion. Here are the top ten reader suggestions that have stood the test of time:

1 – The site should not have moving items, flash or gizmos. Readers want to read the information and quickly find what they need to know. A bit of movement here and there is OK, but it should not dominate the site.

2 – Do not use funky colors, bright pinks, neon greens, etc. Colors should be calming and easy to read. This goes for backgrounds and font (text) colors. The text the reader is trying to see should not move. The favorite color scheme tends to be a white background with dark text (black, dark blue, dark gray) and dark colored accents around the reading area. Also remember that the colors red and gray together are difficult for people who are color-blind to distinguish. Your information should be printable, which is difficult on a colored background.

3 – No automatic music or ads to come on while I am reading website material. In some cases, it can be prudent to try and supplement site revenue with ads. Those ads that pop out of context or automatically make noise or activate a video are universally hated.

4 – Do not use too much information in too many columns in your layout. The new “magazine” website layouts can be beautiful, but they can also be too “busy” for the average reader. Your site should not look like a 3-ring circus. The information and accentuating graphics should draw the reader in and not given them a headache trying to figure out what to read first.

5 – Grammar and spelling are important. It is common knowledge that the opinion and confidence a reader will invest in you as the entity behind the website is greatly affected by misspellings and bad grammar. They do notice and it really does make a big difference.

6 – Keep it professional. It is fine to create a warm, welcoming web presence, but unless you are going for a particular theme around a certain dialect, it is a good idea to refrain from “text speak” (“LOL,” “U” instead of “You,” etc). Along these lines, photos or graphics that are used should be appropriately sized and clear, not fuzzy and hard to view.

7 – Always expand an acronym the first time it is used. For instance, “The AMA (American Medical Association) has actively endorsed the use of therapies employed by OLMH (Our Lady of Mercy Hospital). You can read the AMA’s report on the types of therapies used at OLMH at this link.” You can use only the acronym forever once you have explained what it means, but do not leave your reader wondering what you’re talking about exactly.

8 – Watch your page load time. It is important to remember and easy to forget that some readers are still on dial up internet service and web pages can take forever to load. It is also difficult for a dial up connection to load flash items or other intricate programming. Keeping your site pages clean and simple (Sweetie) will allow for a quicker load time for those who are on slower connections.

9 – Do not use pages that scroll down and down and down and down forever. It is important to break up the pages in your web site into manageable files. This is another way of “keeping it simple, Sweetie.” Another universal hatred are horizontal scroll bars that require you to move the bar from right to left to see all of the width of the column. Remember that not all readers have a large monitor.

10 – Fonts used for text on the site should be large enough to read and of a standard type – Little will make a reader surf right off of your site faster than having to decipher a script or specialty font to figure out what you’re saying. The font should be one of the Arials, Times New Roman, Georgia or another standard text font. The text size should not cause them to squint to see the words. Most readers over the age of 40 have trouble seeing smaller sized text.