Usability is a quality term that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use. The word “usability” also refers to methods for improving ease-of-use during the design process. Your homepage is its face to the world not only communicating your brand, your message and your products to potential customers. Proper usability allows customers to know who you are and are what they are looking for when they land on your page.
Usability is defined by five quality components:
- Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the site?
- Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
- Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
- Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
- Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?
Why Usability is Important
On the Web, usability is a necessary condition for survival. Your homepage is the most valuable real estate in the world, each year companies and individuals spend billions of dollars through a space that is less (typically) one foot square.
Steve Krug in his book “Don’t Make Me Think” claims his number one design priority is to not make people think in other words “Self Evidence.”
Make your sites purpose very clear!!
Who are you and what do you do!!
- Include a one-sentence tagline, Start the page with a tagline or slogan that summarizes what the site or company does. Especially if you are new.
- Group all company information in “the About Us Page” This is a great place to boost company credibility with newer companies
- Legibility, using a font that is easy to read, using small font size and poor contrast and visability is one of the top issues of web design.
- Help Users Find what they need, offering a clear starting point for the first 1-4 tasks, including the products!
- Include a site search box very easy to find, and no excess verbage, site searches are apart of web design conventions, anything other then “search” on the search box is confusing.
- All links should begin with a keyword this makes it easier for users eyes to differentiate the action items. Make sure your links are colored and distinguished between visited and unvisited links. It is Where am I, Where can I go, Where have I been. IS IT OBVIOUS?
- Use Graphics to communicate a message not to just look pretty. It is always best to show your product being used. Many times graphics especially Flash are viewed as advertisement and serve to annoy users.
- Violating design conventions. Design conventions, these are the consistent from site to site taking into consideration your competition. The user expectations the user has of your site is based upon what is commonly done on other sites. The more consistent you are the more comfortable the user feels.
- Opening New Browser Windows this is not bad if the user is clicking away in the case of an affiliate link however the unnecessary opening of widows to keep users on the sight. Becomes and incredible annoyed if your windows take over their computer screen.
- Not answering Users Questions for example pricing, Who are you? What do you sell, how do I get there. These issues and or making it easy to navigate the site and identify the cost of a product or service.
- Standardize links through out the site, this includes standard colors, differentiated between visited and non-visited. Be sure to use keywords as links not only for users but for SEO purposes. Refrain from using the phrase click here as a clickable phrase.
- Content written for the needs of the web
- to the point (rather than full of fluff).
Web content should also
- answer users’ questions
- use common language rather than made-up terms (this also improves search engine visibility, since users search using there own words not yours).
- Keyword rich
- Predictable navigation (Conventions) is your site completely different from your competitors? If So did you make it easier to navigate, use and guide the user?
- Contact and company information is a must not only for credibility but to help build an e-mail campaign for future sales
- Build using the billboard approach
Your users do not read and go through and organized search and find the best choice, According to Steve Krug in the his book “Don”t Make Me Think.” He realized that we do not make the best choice we make the first reasonable option. The reasons he states are these;
- We usually are in a hurry
- There is no penalty for guessing wrong
- Weighing options may not improve our chances
- Sometimes guessing is more fun.
Steve says that very few people read instructions but “muddle through” we don’t care to figure things out. Why? It is just not to important to us. It is not for lack of intelligence but for lack of caring.
To sum up web design, we usually think that users are going to read all of the content on our site in reality users are taking the billboard approach. How much can they figure out driving by at 60 mpg. Users are usually in a hurry and know they can navigate without reading everything on the page (Skimming and Scanning)
If a website is difficult to use, people leave. If the homepage fails to clearly state what a company offers and what users can do on the site, people leave. If users get lost on a website, they leave. If a website’s information is hard to read or doesn’t answer users’ key questions, they leave. Note a pattern here? There’s no such thing as a user reading a website manual or otherwise spending much time trying to figure out an interface. There are plenty of other websites available; leaving is the first line of defense when users encounter a difficulty.
If users cannot find the product, they cannot buy it either.
So don’t make them think
by Monty Cassel