Improving Web Site Usability

July 18th, 2012 Leave a comment
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Improving Web Site Usability

The goal in Web design should be to create usable pages that your users can access and that contain content relevant to your visitor. Usable, readable web content is a marriage of efforts between web designers and web content writers. Web pages must be designed to facilitate the ease of reading content through the effective use of colors, typography, spacing, etc…In turn, the content writer must be aware of writing strategies that enable readers to quickly identify, read and internalize information. In this article I will discuss some ways that you can improve your Web site usability and create better sites.

Sites should be Easy to Use

Research shows that web visitors are not, per se, turned off by how many times they must click around on your site to find something. It’s the difficulty of using the website. On that basis, don’t worry so much about trying to keep visitors’ clicks down to three (or some other arbitrary number), before they find what they’re looking for. However, it should be easy and intuitive to move from one place to another on your Web site.

One of the big things to look out for when changing your site or adjusting your content; is forgetting to make changes to your navigation. Many developers forget to change the navigation or links to content after making updates which can create unusable or frustrating parts of your site.

Add a Search Option

Users usually see search option as an ultimate guide to scan through the website and reach straight to their desired page. Most of the time the user is in hurry and do not have time to loiter around on the site before reaching their destination. Thus, the website designers should include a site search option in their designs. A good search option gives the ultimate freedom to the users to scan through the web site and reach wherever you want in no time.

Create Concise Content

It’s pretty well known that web users have very short attention spans and that we don’t read articles thoroughly and in their entirety. We skip around a webpage instead of reading it from top to bottom and have lowered attention spans. Shorter articles enhance readability, so much so that many popular readability measurement formulas use the length of sentences and words as factors that influence ease of reading and comprehension.It’s also a good idea to use such devices as headings, sub-headings, bolding, short paragraphs, lists, etc…That enables skimmers to quickly grasp your content.

Don’t Scare Users Away

Make sure you are not asking for too much information from your customers. Limit your surveys and other data collecting methods that people may find intrusive. Invite feedback from your customers, and provide options for them to reach you. Follow up to make sure questions have been answered satisfactorily and make sure email links and phone numbers reach people who can actually help.Sometimes, fine print can frighten people away, especially where their credit information is concerned. Prominently display security icons and summarize your Privacy and Use Policies in appropriate places. Then link to your complete Privacy and Use Policies.

Organize Your Site

Frequently, websites are organized in a way that makes sense to its creators, not its users. This may happen when different corporate divisions or suppliers are providing content that is being posted directly to the website. Once you check for consistency, see if the information is being presented in a way that promotes a sale. Can visitors see your products in category groups for easy comparison, and individually, with all options displayed and described?

Test Your Site

Start testing your site. Do a survey or use other analytics tools, but you don’t have to wait until your entire site is updated to analyze your efforts. For instance, I suggest that you install tools like Heat Map to record keystrokes of users on your site and see how they’re moving through your site. This information can help you better understanding user behavior, and consequently, usability and popularity of your site.

Every Page Matters

Due to Google and other search engines that link content instead of specific Web pages, you will often get traffic to specific pages in your site instead of just the home page. It’s important to ensure that your popular landing pages are as optimized for usability as possible, not just your home page. Consider what the user sees and how they get around, when they land on a random page in your site.

Beware the Flashy Graphics

Using flash for smooth and tranquilizing website seems to be a tempting option, but then it has some adverse effects too, like bad performance and longer loading time. In order to make the web site user friendly and effective all those option which make the browsing slow should be avoided, as they are one of the major factors through which you can lose visitors. These cause delay in the loading of a website and frustration in your user.

Use a Site Map

This site map helps you provide synopsis or quick review of your website to the users. Using site map a visitor can get the idea of what the website has in store in just a glimpse, and trust me users really appreciate this as it will save their time. By providing the site map to your users, you are showing a combination of logical and architectural organization of the website.

Finally, remember that your Web site user may not be comfortable on the Internet. Your site should convey professionalism and trust to put your user at ease. It can be difficult as a designer to maintain balance between great looks and usability but ultimately, your site has to be usable by its audience or its impressive looks have gone to waste.

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