12 August 2013

What is website usability?

Having good website usability is essential for your business to stand out from the competition. If the navigation from your site is not intuitive for your users, then the number of people walking away from your site increases. When you are developing a site, your main task is to put yourself in the shoes of your visitors and deliver a site that makes their experience enjoyable. In this article, we will discuss how some of the websites usability best practices.

Website Usability Best Practices © Copyright David Flores and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License

Does my site have good usability?

Mashable’s Jacob Gube provides us three quick and dirty rules of thumb to find out:

Text and typography have to be easy and pleasant to read (i.e. they must legible).

Content should be easy to understand.

Content should be skimmable because web users don’t read a lot. Studies show that in a best-case scenario, we only read 28% of the text on a web page.

If you strike out on any of these rules, then sorry to break it to you but your site sucks at usability.
Interacting with your site shouldn’t be complicated. You shouldn’t have to go through a 20-page instruction manual, put on your reading glasses and have a dictionary nearby. A site with good usability is a site that is easy to use.

So, how do I make my site easy to use?

“Design your site focused around your prospective user”.– Click to Tweet

Here are five key principles that are part of my golden rule.

1. Your site must be available and accessible.

There are tons of website owners that make it so hard for us to interact with them.

They are using Flash. And iPhones and iPads cannot render Flash.

They are cramming as much text as possible in font size 8 at single space. And my Granny cannot read that small for longer than 2 minutes.

They are using this gigantic images that are fixed and don’t render well on mobile devices. And I just bought this cool Android Smartphone.

If people are trying to access your site, and for whatever reason, they can’t, then your site is worth nothing. A major role in making your site available and accessible has to do with implementing good responsive mobile design.
Don’t make it so hard for people to access your site.

2. Your site’s content must be concise.

Remember that just a while ago I mentioned that studies have showed we only read 28% of the text on a web page? If your answer is NO, then you’re validating this point!

Web usability expert Jakob Nielsen has found through his research that only 16% of his test subjects always read word-by-word any new page they came across.

So, be concise.

Too wordy: The agency is not prepared to undertake expansion at this point in time.

Concise: The agency is not ready to expand.

Got it? Great! Let’s move on.

Web Usability Best Practices © Copyright Denis Dervisevic and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License

3. Your site must have a “hook”.

ICanHasCheezburger.com has LOLcats.

Facebook.com has the Like button.

Google.com has the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button.

Notice how these three examples are awesome:

LOLcats lighten up our day and we love to share them via email and social media.

Facebook’s Like button provides instant gratification to both the receiver and giver of the like.

“I’m Feeling Lucky” turns a simple search engine into an adventure.

An important point to remember when developing a site with good usability is that the site must be fun to use.

4. Your site must have visuals and “breathing room”.

Visuals (e.g. photos, charts and graphs) are worth a thousand words.

Even Guttenberg back in the early printing days threw in a couple of images into his book because he knew the power of visuals.

Make your site enjoyable to users by adding visuals and giving everything a bit of breathing room. Nobody likes to feel overwhelmed.

5. Your site must evolve.

Finally, this is one of the most important rules.

Good website usability is not a destination, is a journey.

It requires constant experimentation and feedback from your users.

In order to make your website better, you need to design for your users. Let them play with it. Gather feedback. Tweak the design. Let them play. Over and over.

Want to improve the usability of your site? Then find out more about our web design philosophy.

We look forward to learn about your business and find out if we can help you. Schedule a free consultation to talk about your web needs.
Let’s do this!

How to Tell if Your Website Sucks!

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