Tips for Improving Your Website’s Usability
When it comes to marketing one’s company on the internet, one area that is often neglected is usability. Usability deals with how easily a website visitor can maneuver though a site. Even if a company creates compelling content and markets it correctly, not considering usability can have a direct financial impact on the results obtained from the site. One reason is visitor engagement. Many visitors are likely to spend less time on a site if the site is less usable. Less time on a site means less visitor engagement and a lower probability that a user will take the desired action whether that action is placing an order, contacting the company, or leaving contact information.
To fully optimize a site to deliver the best return for the company, consider the following tips to improve the usability of your website:
Make the navigation on a site consistent. For example, if navigation buttons are positioned at the top of the page on the home page, keep those navigation buttons in the same location. Also consider using the same titles for the upper navigation buttons regardless of what page the website visitor is on. Make the navigation buttons easy to see. Don’t have too many choices within the navigation structure of your site. Giving the site visitor too many choices can result in confusion.
Pay close attention to the number of clicks a user must make to get to different parts of the site. The more clicks that are required, the less likely the visitor is to reach the final intended destination.
Make the site easy to read. Write the content at the lowest grade level of the reader. In general, content should be written at an eighth grade level, except when dealing with highly complex topics. Break up the text by using headlines and sub-headlines. These titles should make it easy for the reader to scan a page and understand what the content is about. Spell check any content and make sure the grammar is correct. Avoid using white text on a black background. Many readability studies have shown that white text on black dramatically reduces readability. Use resizable fonts so that as the size of the page being viewed by a browser changes, the font adjusts accordingly. Break up the text by using images. Make it clear where links are to other sections of the site or to locations external to the site.
Design and Layout
Carefully review the site to prevent 404 errors. A 404 error occurs when a web page is not available. Build a more user friendly 404 page in case an instance occurs when a page cannot be found. Keep important content above the fold. The above the fold portion is the area of a site you can see without scrolling down. Make it easy to print content so that printed copies are easy to read. Don’t make excessive use of animation. Too much animation can distract users from important content on the site.
Make sure the site loads quickly. A slow loading site will discourage impatient visitors from remaining on the site until it loads. Slow loading sites are penalized by Google in terms of search engine rankings because Google’s goal is always to optimize the user experience. Make sure contact information is easy to locate. It is better to have a contact link at the top of the webpage instead of placing it in a more obscure place such as at the bottom of the site.
If you have a website now, reassess how usable the site is and make adjustments to improve usability. If you are in the process of building a site, include usability considerations.