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Identify basic principles of website usability, readability, and accessibility.
Web usability is basically about making the website more comprehensible and easy-to-use. A whole discipline has evolved from this one core idea. Now it is more than a web design trend that you may or may not follow, but rather a must-have quality attribute for every website.
There are 2 main goals behind website usability;
- Save user’s time by making everything clear, easy and accessible.
- Increase satisfaction from the website experience and prevent negative response.
What makes for a user-friendly website? Just like any other success recipe inquiry, this question is also very frequently asked and is never answered with a concrete working formula. Because there is no shortcut for website usability, though too many would opt for it.
Let’s start with a basic, yet central aspect of usability: the availability and accessibility of your site. If people try to access your website and it doesn’t work — for whatever reason –your website becomes worthless.
Here are a few of the basics of availability and accessibility,
- Server uptime – It’s important to ensure your visitors don’t get an error trying to load your site. Invest in good hosting.
- Broken links – Double check that there are no dead links on your site. Nothing sends a visitor back to Google search results faster than a 404 page.
- Mobile responsiveness – Make sure your site can handle different screen sizes and slow connections.
You could say the core of usability is clarity.
If you distract or confuse your visitors, they will either need more time to find what they came for, or they might forget their initial goal all together. Either way, they will not experience your website as user-friendly and chances are that they leave dissatisfied and with no intention of coming back.
Visitors come to your site with certain goals in mind. It is your job to help them reach these goals as quickly as possible. If you can manage to do that, your visitors will be pleased and you have laid the groundwork for a positive experience.
A clear and usable design can be achieved through:
- Simplicity – Focus on what’s important. If you don’t distract your vistors they will be more likely to do what you want them to do.
- Familiarity – Stick to what people already know. There is nothing wrong with looking at other sites for inspiration.
- Consistency – Don’t get cute. Create a consistent experience across your entire website to keep your visitors mind at ease.
- Guidance – Take your visitors by the hand. Don’t expect your visitors to explore your site all on their own. Instead, guide them through your site and show them what you have to offer.
- Direct feedback – Feedback is essential to any interaction. The moment people interact with your site, make sure to offer an indication of success or failure of their actions.
- Good information architecture – Understand your visitors’ mental models and how they would expect you to structure the content on your site.
Learnability is another important aspect of usability. It should be your goal to design intuitive interfaces — interfaces that don’t require instructions, or even a long process of trial and error to figure them out. Key to intuitive design is to make use of what people already know, or create something new that is easy to learn.
Credibility is a crucial aspect of any website. Even if people find the content they are looking for, if they don’t trust you, that content is worthless. Your website could cause site visitors to be skeptical about your business in any number of ways including whether or not you really exist, your reputation, or the quality of your content.
It is important that people know you are a real company with real people. Offer a clear "About Us" page together with your contact details and if possible a physical address.
relevancy contributes to good website usability. It is not enough that your website is clear, your content must also be relevant. Again, it is essential that you know your users and why they visit your site.
Whether you’re displaying informational content or persuasive copy, the key is being concise: clearly communicating your meaning with as few words as possible. I am not referring to broken English or text message shorthand, but rather eliminating the fluffy, flowery language riddled with adjectives and adverbs… the exact opposite of what English teachers taught you in school.
If you already consider your copy to be concise, consider how it is formatted. Are your paragraphs dense or is the copy broken out into smaller, easily digestible chunks? You should break your paragraphs up into smaller portions of content to make your content easier to read.
Breaking up a paragraph into individual bullets is a great tactic when listing out product/solution benefits or differentiators.
In addition, within each bullet it is important to make key words or phrases bold to enhance scan-ability. The bold copy helps drive visitors’ eyes through the content. Readability must always come first when text or copy is laid over design elements: graphics, photography, or call-to-action buttons.
In such situations the copy should always "pop" off design elements through use of contrast. In the end, visitors will not stay on your site if they have to strain to read your content