Designing for Google users

Designing for Google users

When planning a web site projects consider their visitor's needs and try to build a website they can use.

Usually on the "homepage" the website will explain how it can help the visitor, with some idea about what can be found on the site and what it can do for them. Links to all the interesting bits and a general description. Next they add lots of interesting content, some interactivity, and some way of navigating around the website to get between section or page to page.

The design has followed a fairly linear process, the user arrives at the homepage, finds that this is the site for them, then starts to devour the site, a little like a book, digesting from section to section, drilling down into the depths of the website, and consuming every bit of the content.

Sadly these ravenous readers of websites are few and far between. More commonly when examining the log files (these show the activity that has taken place on the website) of various projects, I find a leaner more skittish reader. Skimming from page to page, rarely even glancing at the "homepage". Most users of content driven websites appear from a search at Google, Yahoo or MSN deep within the website, usually at a page that fits their information hunger fairly precisely, they want to know about "Zande spears" or "Potala Palace in Tibet".

With this knowledge it puts quite a spin on the idea of a "homepage". Almost every page needs to work a little like a "homepage". If people don't understand what your website is about strait off the bat, when they land at a random deep page on your website, the website has failed.

Suggestions

Keep language as easily understandable as possible. Using anything even slightly ambiguous in your main navigation or page title will confuse some people. Think through your language use, does everyone understand what an accession number is? should it be called a museum number? Any floaty language could easily get misinterpreted