The usability of your website can have a critical impact on its success. In fact, according to measuringusability.com, recent research suggests that usability is even more important than the attractiveness of your website. In short, if your website is usable, it will be perceived as more attractive.
Website usability also has a direct impact on conversions. The easier it is to use, the more likely it is that users will become clients or customers.
We’ve put together our top six tips to ensure your website hits the mark when it comes to usability.
1. Get your navigation right
When you’re lost in a car, you have no choice but to keep going until you find your way. But if a user becomes lost navigating your website, they can simply give up and move on to a competitor’s site. That’s why getting your site navigation right, is crucial.
And that first click counts. A report by measuringusability.com found that if a user’s first click on your website is down the right path, in 87 per cent of cases they will eventually find what they are looking for. However, if they click down an incorrect path, only 46 per cent will succeed.
A website's navigation, which includes position, structure, design and language, needs to be easy to use and make sense to your target market. Is the structure logical? Do the menu items accurately reflect the content within each page? Is the navigation consistent across all pages?
Take the time to get your site architecture right and put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
2. With content, less is more
When it comes to web content, less is more. You may have a lot to say, but there’s no point saying it if users stop reading after the first paragraph.
Being clear and concise is key when writing for the web. Short, targeted and insightful content will be more easily absorbed than lengthy paragraphs. It will also reduce the risk of information overload and help your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) efforts.
Also consider the language used (tone and style), minimising scrolling, using SEO keywords and balancing text with other visual mediums (images, videos).
3. Stick to web standards
Website standards exist for a reason. Follow them, and they will, by default, increase the usability of your website. If you are looking to deviate from a standard, ask yourself if the risk is justified and be sure you have good reason. If in doubt, seek advice from an expert.
4. Consider all users
Just because your website works on your PC, in your preferred browser, on your internet connection, does not mean your target market will have the same experience.
Allowing for different environments and capabilities is a must for any website project. Different browsers, internet speeds, screen resolutions and plugin support, alongside user skill levels and abilities, all need to be catered for.
Understand your target market and current website environment standards, and review your website in light of these, to ensure all users experience your website the way you intend them to.
5. Be smart phone and tablet-friendly
As smart phone and tablet usage increases at a rapid pace, being smart phone and tablet-friendly is no longer just a nice-to-have bonus. It’s a necessity.
A recent Google survey of smart phone users found that users are five times more likely to abandon a task they are trying to complete, if the web design isn’t optimised for smart phone use. Almost 80 per cent of respondents said they would find another site to meet their needs, rather than waiting until they were on a PC.
6. Always conduct usability testing
Usability testing is often overlooked, yet it is the most important step in the web design process.
Usability testing is generally performed in one-on-one sessions with people who represent your target market. Testing focuses on typical, specific website activities, which are monitored with questions asked of the participant during the test.
By performing just a few of these tests, you can quickly identify usability issues which may have been overlooked. It’s a valuable process because, at the end of the day, if your site isn’t user-friendly, users won’t stick around.
If you would like more information on website usability or if have a website project you’d like help with, please contact Joyer to discuss your requirements.