Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Top Tips on Website Usability

Website Usability
by Kathryn Richards

Of course, it’s great if your site is arriving at the top of Google. Visitors are clicking through to your website? Excellent.
But what’s the point of your business website? Whether it’s to provide information, showcase your business/ products or build your online presence, ultimately, your aim is to generate leads or sales.
This is where usability comes in. As when visitors do arrive at your site, they need to be able to use it – and understand the content.

1. A clear + simple navigation system
At all times, users need to be able to answer these questions with ease:
- Where am I? Where have I been? Where can I go now?
Action points
- Keep it consistent. Your main navigation system should be the same on every page – regardless where you are on the site! Otherwise visitors will be confused – and could easily click away.
- Create clear links. Be sure to use relevant text inside your links – e.g. "About us" rather than a picture or irrelevant text – e.g. "the corporate story". Even if you use a dynamic menu system (e.g. Javascript), keep the text links.
- A site map. A text based site map (that is accessible from all pages) means that visitors will always have a back-up.
- Link to your Home Page. Keep the link option "Home" not only in your main navigation system, but also your logo. Visitors expect the company logo (normally in the top left corner) to be a link to the homepage.

2. Content that’s clear and simple.Great content is at the heart of any quality website. The design is important – but after all, the content is what will generate leads, and return visits to the site.
Of course, it’s best to create powerful, optimised copy – but never forget, your ultimate audience will be humans – not search engine robots!
Action points
- Put the best at the top. Be aware of where the fold is on your site, and be sure that all important content is above this.
- Keep text visually friendly. The copy needs to be easy to scan – so visitors can easily find and read the information they are looking for. Use lists, headings, highlighting, bold type…
- Think about your Images. Firstly, avoid using text inside images whenever possible – search engines can’t read it. Be sure to also give ALT and TITLE attributes to all images.
- Contrast. Make sure your content speaks for itself – be careful when using background images and colours – otherwise it’s simply not possible to read the text!

3. Stay strong to your brand.Remember, if your website seems professional and modern, so will your business. Whilst content should be your #1 priority, making a good impression visually is also extremely important.
- Colour and font consistency. Ensure you’re using the same colours throughout the site – even for links. Work with your designer on choosing the colours and fonts that best reflect your business, and then stick with them!
- Uniform page layout. By using a web site template, you can enforce consistency across all pages. This is important as visitors can then predict where all the important elements are on every page on your site – even if they have only visited one.
- Use of a tagline. Make sure your tagline – which clearly and concisely explains your "valus proposition" – is clearly displayed on every phrase.

4. Test your site on humans!

Be aware that you, having spent hours on the design, of course you understand how your site works. But it's important that as soon as visitors arrive on your site, they understand what your site's about, and how to use it.
Usability testing means testing your site on the average web user - and, following the experience, improving your site. There is absolutely no reason to skip this step - it is a very important part in the creation process - after all, what's the point in having a website if your visitors don't understand how to use it?

2 comments:

  1. You should think of what the customers would want to see, so that you'll have an idea to what to do to your site.

    ReplyDelete

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