The idea behind most websites are to deliver information, products or services to an end user. But what happens when that end user has difficulty in finding that information, those products or services? They leave the website and turn else where for their needs. Not only does usability help people quickly and easily find what they’re looking for in a website, but great usability will also help search engines rank and categorize websites. This article gives five keys which are essential in retaining visitors through usability friendly websites.
Among the most important aspects of usability is the ability of search. A search field will allow the user the quickest and most convenient access to what they are looking for. For this reason, search engines are among the most popular websites in the world. Imagine if Amazon or Ebay didn’t have the ability to search, however another competitor did have that capability. It wouldn’t be too long before Amazon and Ebay would go out of business. Search is a must have for any website boasting a product database, a list of services, or a blog of information.
Descriptive Titles and Keywords
Having descriptive titles and keywords are important to usability because they help the user read, find what they are looking for quickly, and help them stay on track. People don’t like to read online, especially for long periods of time. Most people are more likely to skim through a large body of text to find what they are looking for, and if they don’t find what they are looking for, they are likely to leave. Descriptive titles are like road signs that lead the end user to where they are going and help them find the information they are looking for. Using the same keywords within the body of a paragraph will remind the user that they have come to the right place to find that information. A good tip to using keywords are remembering to use the same keywords in the first and last sentences of a paragraph.
Site Map and Related Pages
Having a clear, categorized site map with descriptive link titles is another key for great usability. Often times a user will resort to the site map in order to browse the entire collection of links. It’s not always that a user knows what they are looking for, and would some times like a list of links to look through on a website. Having a site map will go a long way in helping people find what they are looking for, and it will also help search engines categorize and rank a website. In fact, a site map is a major key in any successful SEO (search engine optimization) campaign.
Having a way for someone to quickly contact someone else is a great way to add better usability to a website. Examples of this are listing e-mail addresses, phone numbers, having a forum, or even live chat. Listing a phone number is probably the best way to help people find the information they are looking for when they can’t find it anywhere else on the website. Other than a phone number people are more likely to e-mail than posting something on a forum, or even doing a live chat. Some people would say that live chat hasn’t been around long enough in order for people to completely trust that someone real will be on the other end. Often times, live chats have been known to be run by a bot, however with recently organized technology, live chat is gaining more and more popularity on the web.
Using Rich Media
Pictures can say a thousand words, right? Having a diagram, model, or photo of something can often times explain something much more than words can. Rich media means photos, videos, and sound clips. People like what is convenient for them, and looking at a picture, watching a movie, or listening to an audio clip is much more convenient than trying to read and comprehend something on a website. Rich media is also said to be able to retain the attention of a user ten times longer than a website without rich media. It is obvious that because of its convenience, having rich media on adds to the usability of a website.
Building the Information Super High Way
The internet has been often referred to as the information super high way. This is mostly due to the usability of the entire internet. It started with file sharing and chat programs and has evolved into technologies far beyond that of the old days. Usability is the focus of evolving the internet so that users are able to find and accomplish their online goals in a quicker and more convenient manner, which is why it is so important.