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Website Usability - Design Your Website for Your Human Visitor
Make website usability your number one priority when designing your website. It is said that you have approximately 7 words and 3 seconds to capture someone’s interest on the Internet so they click on your link. Once you have them where you want them, it is your website’s job to keep them there.
Everyone is busy, especially Internet users who use the Internet to save time to begin with. The last thing they need is to not find something that they are looking for. So as a website owner and operator, you want to provide your information in a clear, well presented manner that is easy to find on your website.
At the very least, make sure to provide the basic information in a manner apparent and easy to navigate to. This basic information is your contact information, a blurb about who you are and about your company, privacy disclosures and other pertinent information to your business. Having a search function and a site map on your website always helps as well.
Web page loadingOne of the most annoying things for the Internet user is slow loading website. If it is a server related issue there is very little you can do about it (perhaps reevaluate your host provider and switch to a better one). However, many times this problem is caused by the design of your very own web page.
This problem is often caused because of heavy graphic usage on a web page. Your visitors are on your website to find specific information they are looking for, not to browse pictures. Now there are specific websites dedicated to images, in which case the visitor will be expecting all sorts of graphics. But otherwise, it’s a nuance more than anything else.
Not only are images large in file size, they can also be distracting to your visitor. Keep its usage minimal and “off to the side” whenever you do use them. Web browsers often lack patience because they know they have a million other choices just a click away.
Be sure not to distract them. Keep your images limited, clean, clear and away from the main text of your website.
Contact information and disclosuresCover the basics. Every website should have an “About Us” and a “Contact Us” section at bare minimum. If your website deals with user information, throw in a Privacy disclosure and a Legal disclaimer where necessary (recommended for service websites). Make sure you spend time on these sections. They don’t have to be long but the time you spend at the onset is every bit worth it in the long run.
Include your address, phone number, contact eMail ID and fax number if applicable. If you have multiple functions within the business, provide the email addresses dedicated to each. For example, it helps to have multiple eMail addresses such as contact@, support@, orders@showing your visitor you have dedicated resources to handle each type of query. At the very least, have one email ID that you consistently check.
I am sure you can relate to the pain of not finding a website’s email address or phone number. Or even simply read a bit about their history and what they do. It is extremely frustrating not being able to locate even the basics! Your visitors can find it very difficult to trust you as a legitimate business if you can’t give them even the basics.
Content is keyContent is King! You’ve heard it again and again. Delivering high value content directly aimed at your visitor can almost guarantee success in itself. Many web developers get too tied up in optimizing websites for search engines. Others get obsessed with their own business that they forget to address the true user of the website, the visitor. Make clear your purpose online immediately, and then stick to that purpose.
Once you are content with the way your site presents it to your human visitor, go back and optimize it for search engines; but not at the expense of your human visitor. Some keywords and phrases might rank high, but may sound awkward when read by a human being.
Keep your web copy simple and stay on topic. Don’t forget you only have 3 seconds and 7 words! Highlight, bold, underline the key points wherever necessary but don’t overdo this. Finally, don’t bombard the screen with text. Keep a lot of white space between paragraphs. Web visitors love the solace they find in white.
FAQThe FAQ section is the recent staple of all websites. Visitors almost expect this to be on any website. So make sure you have a section dedicated to some of the most common questions that your visitors ask you. Provide clear and detailed responses to each frequently asked question. This will increase visitor confidence and will save you the hassle of independently having to respond to their eMails to you.
Beauty is in simplicityOverall, the simpler your site layout the better for your visitor. Visitors want to get in and grab the information they are looking for right away. The easier you make this process for them, the more trust and credibility you will build.
You will inherently lead them to spend more time on your website. The quality of your content should be able to keep them glued on for as long as they want without much distractions and nuisances. You want to make them feel welcomed, not overwhelmed.
Sometimes too much information presented all at once can also be overwhelming. This is why it is important to make your home page and navigation options as lean and clean as you can. As I have learned over time, your visitors will quickly tell you what they want more off and what they dislike.
Continue to enhance your website usability by studying your visitor’s behavior. The key is to tweak your website’s aesthetic appeal and track results at the same time. Start simple and then make then changes and modifications necessary as you grow and attract more traffic. However don’t forget to monitor and track the performance of each change.
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