Website Usability: The Beginner’s Guide
When creating or planning your website you should pay attention on website usability. It’s one thing to put a website together which has a stunning design and even great content, you most likely won’t achieve your targeted goal unless you consider the basic rules of website usability. To keep your visitors on your site and ultimately convert the visits into sales (contacts) there are a lot of things you should take into account.
Logically build navigation is essential to avoid that your site’s visitor get lost and give up on continue reading your site. With the lack of optimised navigation you can loose potential customers to your competitiors.
Logical navigation for better website usability: you can include home button in the navigation or back to the top link at the end of the page, the relevant category link on the sidebar, related pages link at the bottom of your page, breadcrumbs, clear where you are links etc. to make it easy and logical to your visitors to get from “A” to “B”. Don’t forget, not all your visitors will enter your site from the home page. It’s more likely that the starting point will be an article or a subpage introducing your services – you should guide them to reach the important contents from all the possible pages.
Don’t waste other’s time
Be clear and simple. Most users have limited time to get to the important information, you should consider if your links or content is hidden or hard to reach most likely your visitors won’t take the time to look for it. What may seem selfexplanatory for you it may not be simple for others to figure out.
Avoid Cluttering Elements
You might think it’s a good idea to put your favourite song in the background or automatically starting video cast, which might not be the best solution for your website usability. If it is your personal website and you don’t consider usability issues – well, it is up to you. But any other case give your visitors the chance to choose if they are really interested to watch that video, download that plugin or listen to that audio file. For some pleople (including myself) nothing is more irritating than arriving to a website where there is no clear guide what to do next or how to stop some annoying animation or advertisement.
Statistics show that a website has 5 seconds to capture visitor’s attention before they leave the actual page. With a clear tagline you could help to summerize what is your site’s main focal point. Achieve higher website usability by making it clear what your website is all about.
Include Site search
Especially if you have an extensive content on your website, you can help your visitor to get to the important data by implementing a site search. Consider some main rules for the search box: make it 27 character wide, place it on top of the page and include a clear search button.
Use it wisely, it should add some extra meaning to your website. Avoid using generic images which just take up the space and doesn’t have any website usability value. Don’t forget that sometimes less is more.
Use Site maps
Site maps in essence are a structural representation of a website’s pages and architecture. It can be a help for your visitors to get to relevant page they are looking for.
Create easy to scan pages
Most of the users they don’t read the webpages word by word, they just siply scan though for relevant details in bold titles, empahised text or lists. Studies conducted by Jacob Nielsen shows that users read the content in an F shape, which means they start form the upper left corner, than they move to the right and then move down starting from the left again.
Nielsen also states the implications of this reading pattern:
- Users won’t read a web page content word by word, they will extract important paragraphs, bold text, etc.
- The first two paragraphs are essential on a web page. These must contain the most important information that your visitors are looking for.
- Sub headings and lists stands out from the regular paragraphs. Use these elements to notify users on important information.
Take the traditional printed paper for instance. Catchy headline and first paragraph makes the reader to continue to read the whole article. To apply this method, simply put the most relevan, important content on top of the page, and breaking the rest of the content down logically.
Avoid misleading UI (User Interface) controls
Make sure that the web page elements, components (buttons, tabs, drop-down lists, link formatting, etc.) are consistent. Don’t underline text or don’t inlcude button-like elements in your webpage which are actually not clickable.
There are always some very attractive solutions what the modern web browsers are capable of handling. You should always consider the fact that your visitor might use an older web browser or visit your website on a smartphone. Inlcude degradation, special style sheets for different media, fall backs for these cases. Test your site on different browsers and devices to make sure it will be usable for everyone.
Blank space on your website could help keep a clean structure, and avoid cluttered design. It could improve your website usability and provide a more open appearance. Using white space to group elements.