Usability means making your website easy for visitors to find information they need. Unfortunately, many web companies believe that usability is expensive, but the truth is everyday usability is easy to achieve without expensive testing or experts. Web designers have the easiest job to do with implementing certain features on a website. These 5 tips will give you a good place to start for designing a website that is easy to use.
1. Always Have a Tagline. A tagline is simply a motto or statement that represents the mission or purpose of the website. This is important because it defines the website quickly for visitors. It should also be the most obvious element on the homepage.
2. Have a Site Search Function. When users are searching for something, they will immediately look for the text field to enter their search term. The search box should be 27 characters wide, which makes the text easy to read and use, and this text field should be at the top of the page, where users will expect to find it. Another tip: specify the search button with the word search, not go or submit.
A search function isnt necessary for small brochure websites, but it becomes increasingly important as the size of the website grows. In some cases, a well-designed drop-down menu can substitute for a search function. For example, look at this website for a Miami plastic surgeon. You can see the drop-down menu has many items, but users can easily locate what they may be looking for. A patient searching for more information about scheduling a facelift in Miami, FL would first go to the Procedures drop-down and select facelift, then the contact page to get in touch with the doctor.
3. Use a Site Map. A site map improves website navigation and also search engine optimization. A site map is basically a structured representation of the pages of the site and its architecture. While it can either be a document or a web page that lists the pages in a hierarchical manner, Google offers a Sitemap protocol organized in XML format.
4. Dont Mess Up. Workflow Workflow refers to whatever a user may be doing on the website. This could be browsing categories, filling out a form or reading a website. Dont break up this workflow and allow the user to cancel any operation. Not allow the user to cancel will force them to finish, even if they dont want to.
Because not all operations may be obvious, some require guiding with descriptive advice. You should also make sure users can see where theyve been on the site by changing the color of visited links.
5. Pages Should be Easy to Scan. Making web pages easy to read will keep users on the website longer to read the content. Most online users wont read pages but instead scan them, looking at lists, titles and emphasized text.
Eye tracking studies also find that users read content in an F shape, starting from the top left to the right, moving down and starting again. This means the first two paragraphs are the most important, along with sub headings and lists to capture the eye.