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Essential Website Usability Tips

A website’s usability is one of the essential factors in its success; if a website is hard to use, tricky to navigate or has unclear content and purpose, users will leave. If a site doesn’t deliver what the user wants, they will quickly go elsewhere to find it.

Here are our top hints and tips on ensuring your site delivers on usability:

Ensure it is Accessible
It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Yet we’re continually surprised at the amount of sites we see that have accessibility issues. Make sure your site is hosted reliably, with strong backup systems, put in place meaningful error messages and fix broken links and technical problems as soon as you are aware of them. Ensure your site is built using Mobile Responsive Design and conforms to accessibility guidelines, meaning that it can be accessed anywhere on any device, by all users.

Make it intuitive
Users don’t want to have to think too hard; web pages should be understandable on an intuitive level, meaning a user can move around quickly and easily and without conscious thought. Focus on flow and intuitive movement and functionality.

Clarity

Think about clarity of design, clarity of content and clarity of purpose. Include a tagline to make it clear what you’re offering, don’t use extensive graphics and design elements and ensure the most important information is placed at the top of your web pages. Don’t give users too much choice; faced with too many options they may end up unable to make a decision.

Invest in the Search

Place a large, clear search box at the top of every page on your website. The box should be big enough to allow users to see what they have typed. Make sure the logic that powers the search is strong and returns high quality results; returning irrelevant results is frustrating and a turn off for users.

Manage Visitor Expectations
Users will be comforted by familiarity and order, keep the offering transparent and don’t present them with surprises late in their journey. Avoid shocks like adding delivery costs at the point of checkout.

Remove Barriers to Entry
Don’t make your users jump through too many hoops to access information or purchase a product. Don’t force users to register unless it is essential, but always give the option, and make it as quick and simple as possible.

Mind your Language
Writing for the web is a distinct skill, it follows different rules and requires the use of different language; keep it brief and focused, use short sentences and action words, use lists and sub-headings and always proofread!

Test, Test, Test!
Testing and market research needn’t be an expensive process. It can be as simple as watching a few users navigate around your site and asking them about the experience. However you do it, and whatever your budget, there is no substitute for testing with real visitors and potential customers. Test pre and post launch if you can and make tweaks as needed.

To chat with us about how we can build you a site with the usability factor, or makeover your existing one to increase visitor retention and conversion, contact us.

20 August 2014
Blog Author
Oliver Pluckrose
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