Are Your Visitors ‘Using’ You?
Getting ‘used’ can be a good thing, when we are talking about website usability.
Usability is probably the most under-recognized, yet, most important feature of any website. Many visitors do not make conscious notice of a user-friendly site, however, they are quick to abandon a site when they can’t find what they are looking for. These Top 10 Usability Principles apply to site owners and bloggers, alike.
The Importance of Usability
How long will you spend on a website where you click around in circles trying to find certain information, or worse yet, can’t figure out how to navigate back to the ‘home’ page? Would you link to or refer your friends to a poorly designed website?
Wikipedia defines website usability as,”the elegance and clarity with which the interaction with a web site is designed.” Have you ever asked your customer about how user-friendly, intuitive, or easy-to-use your website is?
Principles of Usability
Merely understanding what usability is is not enough. You must build ‘user- friendly’ into your website. When it comes to setting design goals such as ‘make a usable website’, that’s easy to say, but unless you define the requirements into elements of usability, your well intentioned, yet, poorly defined goal could result in virtual disaster.
Clearly, the full scope of web usability is greater than a single blog post, but her is a short list of the top 10 usability principles for web design.
Top 10 Website Usability Principles
- Create a clear visual design
- Provide effective navigation
- Include appropriate functions (downloads, shopping cart)
- Offer access to technical support or help
- Minimize errors (broken links, slow page load)
- Give the user control (video play/pause/size/volume)
- Be flexible to user’s preferred way of working
- Speak the user’s language (conversational vs. academic)
- Keep the user informed (subscriptions, news feed, RSS)
- Be consistent (stay on topic, update frequency)
The Bottom Line on Website Usability
If you believe that usability is ‘nice to have’ but is not necessary, it’s time to review your site statistics like ‘time on page’ or ‘cart abondonment’. Realize that companies whose primary focus is on customer experience have proven, over and over again, the serious bottom line advantage on placing usability first.
Just like the guy who opens an ‘convenience store’ and stocks the shelves with unlabeled cases of product, the internet is littered with failed sites that did not offer a pleasant experience to the user, or they were too unclear and difficult to use than their competitor’s site. Why build a site that visitors won’t want to use?
Usability not only keeps the visitor engaged, it compels them to share their pleasant experience with friends. As any SEO-conscious site owner knows, increased traffic and back-links from other websites are a significant factors in search engine optimization and ranking (SERPs).
The bottom line is, review your site from a usability perspective, or contract a reputable internet marketing consultant to assess your site’s usability.
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