Training for educators using online learning management systems for high schools and college recommend creating a “Start Here” page to guide the student through the process. If the process is complicated, this makes sense. The question I wanted to know from trainers is why don’t they provide training upon entrance to the school so each instructor doesn’t have to start from scratch and explain how the system works for every class they teach? Let one well-formed tool on the site teach them how to use it. Let the teachers put their energy into developing the curriculum instead.
The same thing applies to websites and blogs.
My policy with clients and students is that if you have to explain how to use the site, there is something wrong with the site. This is a sweeping generalization, but in over twenty years of web design and development experience, I’ve yet to need a Start Here page except for the following conditions.
- If the site’s navigation is necessarily complicated.
- If there is a chronological order, a sequence to navigating the site and content consumption.
- If the site’s organization breaks with web standards.
- The site is a game site offering guidance or instruction on playing a game.
A site that complies with web standards, the standards defined by a generation of web page design, development, usage, and user expectations, should be easy for anyone to use. Natural. The key navigation should be in familiar spots such as within the header area, sidebar, and footer. Content should be structured in familiar ways, divided up by “static” content and posts or articles that are categorized and possibly tagged to increase navigation options.