The Key Principles Of Good Website Usability
In order to make a lasting impression on your visitors, you need to build experiences that go beyond those of a plain, usable website. This does not mean usability has become any less important. It just takes on a different role in web design, now forming the basis for a great user experience.
Usability is the ease of use of a website. Both the design and development process are focused around the prospective user to make sure their goals, mental models and requirements are met. Also to build products that are efficient and easy to use.
Availability and Accessibility
If people try to access your website and it doesn’t work for whatever reason, your website becomes worthless.
- Server uptime – it’s important to ensure your visitors don’t get an error trying to load your site. It’s best to invest in good hosting.
- Broken links – double check that there are no dead links on your website. Nothing sends a visitor back to the Google search results faster than a 404 error page.
- Mobile responsiveness – make sure your site can handle different screen sizes and slow connections. This is very important as a major amount of people search the web through their mobile phones now.
Clarity is the core of usability.
If you distract or confuse your visitors, they will either need more time to find what they came for, or they might forget their initial goal all together. Either way, they will not experience your website as user-friendly and chances are that they leave dissatisfied with no intention of coming back.
Visitors come to your site with certain goals in mind. It is your job to help them reach these goals as quickly as possible. If you can manage to do that, your visitors will be pleased and you have laid the groundwork for a positive experience.
A clear and usable design can be achieved through:
- Simplicity – focus on what is important. If you don’t distract your visitors they will be more likely to do what you want them to do.
- Familiarity – stick to what people already know. There is nothing wrong with looking at other sites for inspiration.
- Consistency – create a consistent experience across your entire website to keep your visitors mind at ease.
- Guidance – take your visitors by the hand. Don’t expect your visitors to explore your site by themselves. Instead, guide them through your site and show them what you have to offer.
- Direct feedback – feedback is essential to any interaction. The moment people interact with your site, make sure to offer an indication of success or failure to their actions.
- Good information architecture – understand your visitors’ mental models and how they would expect you to structure the content on your site.
Learnability is another important aspect of usability.
It should be your goal to design intuitive interfaces – interfaces that don’t require instructions, or even a long process of trial and error to figure them out. Key to intuitive design is to make use of what people already know, or create something new that is easy to learn.
By now, people are familiar with a lot of design concepts used on the web. By using these concepts consistently, you meet your visitors’ expectations. This way, you help them reach their goals much quicker. As human beings, we like patterns and recognition, which is why we are better at handling familiar situations rather than unfamiliar ones.
If you use new concepts in your design, make sure to use them consistently and give people a hand during the initial learning phase. For example, you can offer additional information, or instructions the first time they use your site or product. Keep it simple and visual to help people remember new concepts.
If people find the content they are looking for, but they don’t trust you, your content is worthless. Your website could cause site visitors to be skeptical about your business in any number of ways including whether or not you really exist, your reputation, or the quality of your content.
It is important that people know you are a real company with real people. Offer a clear “About Us” page with your contact details and if possible a physical address.
Make sure you are honest and precise about your content. Avoid mistakes, such as incorrect grammar or misspellings. Don’t be modest about your expertise. If you are an expert in your field, make sure people know it. Showing your social media followers, third-party testimonials, or work references etc. will help you win your visitors over.
Relevancy contributes to good website usability.
It is not enough that your website is clear, your content must also be relevant. Again, it is essential that you know your users and why they visit your site.
Start with defining who your users are. Second, talk to them to find out what their goals are when visiting your site. Third, define user scenarios that demonstrate in which situation people visit your site to find the kind of content you need.
Good usability is not attained overnight. It requires thorough user research and an iterative approach of constant testing and refining. Good usability depends on whether your website is available, clear, credible, learnable, and relevant to the people who actually use it.
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