HTML and CSS Reference
Not all sites have as large and complex a structure as Yahoo!, but you can still provide
context for your users through your navigation scheme. By altering your navigational
elements based on the page that the user is on, you can indicate to them not only where
she can go but also where she is. This is also particularly helpful to users who arrive at
your site not via the home page, but from an external link. Enabling users to immediately
deduce where they are in the larger scheme of things makes it more likely that they'll
take in more of your site.
Are Your Users Tourists or Regulars?
When you're designing a site, especially one that uses forms, one of the key questions
you have to ask yourself is whether your users are tourists or regulars. If your users are
tourists, which means that they don't use your site very often, or will probably only ever
use it one time, you should design your site so that the first-timer can easily figure out
what he should be doing and where he needs to go. This may annoy regular users who
already know where they're going, but in some cases you have to cater to tourists.
On the other hand, if your site is normally used by the same existing group of users who
come back once a day or once a week, your emphasis should be on providing shortcuts
and conveniences that enable them to use your site as efficiently as possible. It's okay if
it takes a bit of work to learn about the conveniences, because it's worth your users'
Clearly, the secret is to strike a balance here. The holy grail is a site that's obvious and
clear to new users but also provides the features that repeat users crave. However, under-
standing what sort of audience you have can help you determine how to assign your
All of this is doubly true with forms. The forms that are part of a discussion board used
by the same people day after day will be designed much differently from those that are
part of a request-more-information form on a product page. When you design a form,
always think about the type of user who'll be using it.
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 antici-
pating 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.