When you hear the words “website usability,” you might think of technical tasks like making sure there aren’t any broken links and implementing good website security. But what it actually refers to is a user’s experience when visiting a website. Factors in a site’s usability include intuitive navigation, ease of learning the site’s interface, and efficiency of use.
Why Is Usability Important?
Usability is important because it can mean the difference between visitors having an informative and satisfactory experience and users becoming frustrated and leaving your site. If it’s not quickly clear to users how to find what they want on your site, they will leave and go to a competitor’s site.
Another important part of usability is accessibility. Your site’s content should be optimized for visitors in different environments and with different abilities. Basic website accessibility includes:
- Making colors and text distinguishable for those with color blindness
- Including alternate texts on images that are integral to your content to convey information to vision-impaired users
Recommended Usability Features
Quicksprout has a list of best practices for usability.
- Optimize your site for mobile devices. Google and other search engines consider your website’s mobile presence when ranking search results. And since the majority of people are now visiting websites on their phone, making sure your website is responsive on mobile should be a priority.
- Use common design elements, such as logo placement on the top left and site search bars in the header. People expect most websites to function in the same way, and if your site looks too different or confusing, they might be tempted to go elsewhere for what they need.
- Make the user journey clear (i.e., make important pages easy and intuitive to find). If people don’t know what to do or where to go in order to achieve they goal they had in coming to your website, they will quickly get frustrated. Make sure you’re establishing a “visual hierarchy” on each page so users know what is most important.
- Present important information first to establish credibility. Users expect a certain level of transparency when they visit a website. Be sure to show them your prices, contact information, and anything else that will quickly tell them who you are and what you offer.
- Make sure fonts are legible (and spacing scannable). This goes back to website accessibility. Just because something looks pretty doesn’t mean it’s readable. Think carefully about which fonts you want to use, line spacing, and paragraph length to make your content easily scannable.
- Make sure pages have consistent style. Your website will look poorly put together if your pages don’t have a consistent style. This can also convey a lack of credibility to users. Stick to tried and true website page styles that match the content on that page.
Bells, Whistles, and Usability
Your website should strike a balance between visual design and usability. A unique visual design can distinguish your site from your competitors. However, unique design shouldn’t distract from usability. Images and animation should blend seamlessly with the interface. Any visuals that distract from site functions should be left out.
How we can help
Usability is the main factor USABAL Solutions’ 5D methodology. During our development process, we often engage a client’s stakeholders for usability testing to measure how interested people visit a site. We then implement changes based on feedback to improve a site’s usability. Contact us to learn more.
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