Web Usability: Top 5 Tips For Your Website

Web Usability: Top 5 Tips For Your Website

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.

Search

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.

Contact

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.

Posted in Web Design

Written by John Hallquist

John Hallquist has been developing websites for the past ten years. He has experience in designing websites, developing SEO, and adwords campaigns. He lives in Rosemount, MN where he serves the needs of small business websites throughout the Twin Cities area (Minneapolis, St. Paul and surrounding suburbs). His website is http://www.twincities-webdesign.com.

  42Comments

  1. Dzinepress   •  

    useful tips you sharing. thanks

  2. Great post. If only clients could realise the value of making more usable websites, the internet would be a much nicer place to be! Thanks very much for sharing

  3. Marc Buurke   •  

    Very nice collection of starter tips. Legible fonts are a must too.

  4. Sophie   •  

    Interesting article, lots of great suggestions and tips!We have a similar based article on our blog which may be of interest to your readers. Another good read.
    http://webkit.o2online.ie/ideasroom/?p=4646
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Gabriel Ryan   •  

    I really like the way you explained each and every aspect of website usability.

    Thank U!

  6. MancMel   •  

    Good tips, I agree with rich media. So many people are posting up videos nowadays, but if you do have a video posted be sure to post a transcript! Some people don’t like video (or simply don’t have speakers or headphones to use, especially at work).

  7. Good article, certainly different to what I expected when I clicked to read it. A different slant on a well done topic, really liked the article. A good website search is really useful for using a bigger site for sure.

  8. duncan gatawa   •  

    I attended an E-tourism seminar a month ago and the topic of the day was how user friendly websites are.I found out that it takes 12 seconds for a customer to decide if they will bother going through your site or not.Most website use flash to make their sites attractive.And they do look attractive.But they take alot of time loading.and thats a big no-no.so for me its all about simplicity,functionality and creativity with the end user in mind

  9. Great article.

    I really agree with the contact section, so many people make it so hard to get in touch with them and will lose business simply because of it. Users should be tripping over themselves with ways to contact you. Also NGN (non geographic numbers i.e. 0800 specifically) numbers, great if you are calling from a landline but annoying if you are trying to call from a mobile, give both options, it cant hurt.

  10. I agree that using a Rich Media is a more effective method to gardner one’s attention than a chunk of text, especially in today’s terrain where users are more spoilt for choice.

  11. Top Left Web Design   •  

    Nice site, blog and post, would also add good to ensure most main parts of sites are no more 2 clicks away.

  12. Umer Malik   •  

    Excellent tips for web designers. They will help creating good web designs.

  13. Software Development   •  

    Great tips! Site maps are often underestimated from a usability perspective.

  14. Jen   •  

    Good, easy to understand post with some good tips. I’ve recently added live chat to my own site as an alternative way for people to get in touch. I find a lot of people don’t like picking up the phone & live chat is a great alternative to email!

  15. Kumar   •  

    great tips! One more tips,
    I think the website home page should have some brief about their products or services. that will help to improve the Search engine ranking

  16. Kumar   •  

    @Jen, Live chat is also a good tip.usually I don’t like to call.

  17. Mike Johnson   •  

    Website should also have speed optimization because must users do not like to wait more than 5 sec (or less) to see the information.
    Great post!

  18. Damian Smith   •  

    Hey guys, just came across your blog and some good stuff you are writing about here.

    I find another important part of usability is the layout of a site. Users eyes are automatically looking for certain things to be in a certain place, there is a kind of web standard now where certain things work better if in uniform. such as logo top left etc.

    It can be fine to break these standards but be careful with how much you try and play around!

  19. Nora Reed   •  

    Nice article! very useful tips, but i want to add that keywords also play very important role for the website promotion, then it should be mostly considered while creating a website!

  20. Jim   •  

    One other alternative is to try a service like http://www.usertesting.com where your can set demographics for the type of user you want from their huge panel of everyday people. These custom selected people will record their thoughts for you to listen to as you watch them navigate your site. I was shocked and amazed at the things I learned.

  21. wayfresh   •  

    I’m not so sure on the search option. I totally agree you should have it when you have a large number of products such as eBay and Amazon.

    However for a 20 page content site, for example, having a search can being back unrelated results. If this was a site on engineering, then typing the word “engineer” would likely bring back every page of the site. For sites like this that are more content related than product specific and not a large number of pages, then a carefully and logically structured website will be more useful than search for the sake of it.

  22. Always plenty to consider when designing a website, like the idea of mentioning related links. Something we are not doing, thus a good way to break content up and spread across when saturated with them keywords

  23. GIK Design   •  

    I tend to agree with most people here that tips such as sitemaps and searches are good for large 20+ page website however many small sites that is overkill I have seen some 5 page websites with a search and a sitemap, that is complete overkill.

  24. Good tips, essential for any blossoming web designer to know most of these things.

    Thanks for the time to put this together!

  25. thextremedesigner   •  

    Great list of tips to standby when creating a website.

  26. Web Solutions India   •  

    Really amazing.Great article, exactly what i was looking for.

  27. vantaylson   •  

    Great article, I have just started my own freelance website http://www.vantaylson.com and although not all points are applicable, I have tried to incorporate as much as possible into the site and will bookmark for future use on clients sites

  28. Stephen Lloyd   •  

    Brilliant tips! really helped me with my own website http://www.dropletdesigns.co.uk

    Great tips and a great way to teach people the importance of keeping your website simple and clutter free to enable users to easily find the information they are looking for!

  29. Lyndel Rosaline   •  

    Great Post.
    Since I belong from SEO field from my aspect I totally agree with the tips but would like to add one more point that is URL of the site or the page must contain the keyword so that from the URL visitor can get the idea about the site or the page.
    I would utilize this post from my site http://www.design2please.org/ on web design information.

  30. Web Designing   •  

    Thanks for Informative tips of Web Designing its really helpful for us to design such type of web template for website.

    Kevin

  31. Multiplex   •  

    Very nice tips. I really like the way you explained webusability aspect.

  32. Scott   •  

    Good stuff, thanks! It’s good to remind yourself about usability sometimes.

  33. Michael Jell   •  

    I have made reviews for my website too. You too could be just a few clicks away from creating fantastic website for your project. This ideas are giving me good hope for my next website project. Good Work!

  34. Aaron   •  

    These are awesome tips, thanks for sharing, I’ll keep them in mind.

  35. James Gordon   •  

    A very solid introduction to usability here. Often it is useful to call in testers to use a new website in order to score it on usability and other criteria. This helps to bring out any design issues.

  36. Richard Hill   •  

    Clear tips – thanks for sharing

  37. web design maidenhead   •  

    Some good points here which should be included in all websites but it’s surprising how often they get overlooked. One of the most important usability things for me is ensuring contact details such as email and phone number are clearly visible near the top of the page.

  38. Jon Tarbuck   •  

    Lots of valuable points here. I particularly agree with the first point about having search functionality built into the site – it always reassures me when I visit a content-rich site and see that they’ve thought about the user experience sufficiently to put it in.

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