Average Internet Users Do Not Exist

There is no clear-cut right or wrong way to creating a great Web site. Of course, some methods used in Web design are clearly wrong, while others are obviously beneficial.

You cannot design a Web site to suit the average user. However, I believe that with usability testing, analyzing, and redesigning, you can create a Web site that meets the needs of the majority of your users.

By surveying your customers, you may discover that 95% of them have a fast Internet connection, such as DSL or cable. If this is the case, then download speed may not be one of your top priorities in designing your site.

The following three steps will help you find out if your Web site works:

  1. Test the usability of your site
  2. Make site improvements
  3. Start again from #1!

Two Types of Web Users

There are two types of Internet users; browsers and searchers.

Browsers are people with some spare time and who are just 'browsing around'. Searchers, on the other hand, are people with a specific goal and who are looking for something in particular. They're probably in a hurry. Your Web site has to cater for both types of users.

Two types of Web users:

  • Web Searchers
    If there's no simple logical structure to follow, searchers will often head straight for a search form when they visit a new Web site. They expect the site's search engine to help them find exactly what they are looking for with minimum waste of time and effort.

    Real World Example of a Searcher
    Have you ever gone shopping, knowing in advance what you wanted to buy? When you walk into the shop, you do a quick scan, and if you can't immediately see what you're looking for, you ask the nearest assistant where the product you're looking to buy is located. You just did a search of the store. In the case of the store, the store assistant was the "search engine."

    Whether you are a browser or a searcher, you will eventually leave a store if you can't find anything of interest or what you're looking for. This is also true on the Web. So you must help your site visitors find what they are looking for with minimum frustration.

  • Web Browsers
    Browsers usually browse the contents of a site using the links available. When users browse, they usually aren't looking for anything specific, but are open to something that catches their interest.

    A Real World Example of a Browser
    People often browse when they go shopping, especially for non-essential items such as clothing, or luxury goods