Usability considerations when building websites
What follows are some of the most important usability considerations when developing a website.
Flatten your navigation structure
When you are designing your information architecture try to make your navigation through the content as flat as possible. You do not want to make your users have to click too many times before they find what they are looking for. Make sure the content you want them to find is easily accessible. The deeper your navigation the less chance your potential customers will find what they are looking for and the higher chance they will leave and go to your competitors. A flatter navigation structure will also help with your websites search engine rankings. The flatter your navigation the easier it is for the search engine spiders to index your website, it also helps to ensure that pages are not left out of the index.
Use calls to action
Make sure you provide many ways for your visitors to act. The obvious one is the checkout of an ecommerce website or for service oriented businesses: have your phone number and email address on the website. Another way is to incentivize them to sign-up for your newsletter. This is important because many visitors who come to your website are not ready to become a customer, they are interested in your product or service but they’re still not ready to take the plunge. Incentivizing them to sign-up for your newsletter by offering them something of value is a great way of initiating a relationship that over time may become a customer relationship.
Having links to your social networking websites is another way to continue the relationship. By attracting them to your social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin you are showing them another dimension to your business; a dimension that is more personal and engaging.
Make sure that your visitors can find the call to action they are looking for, from anywhere on the website. Make sure the phone number is prominent and accessible from every page on the website so that if a visitor wants to call you, they don’t have to go searching for the number it is right there on the page and likewise for all the other call to action methods.
Put yourself in your customers shoes
When you are designing the information architecture try to put yourself in your potential customers’ shoes. Understanding what the touch points are can make the difference between a website that converts and one that doesn’t. There are ways to gather this information during the design phase. For example, you can use www.fivesecondtest.com. This shows users a mockup of you homepage and asks them to answer questions about it.
Once the website is up you can add a feedback button on every page to receive feedback on the usability of each page. There are a multitude of websites that offer these types of tools, cost and flexibility varies from tool to tool, just search for “website feedback tools”
Present your content in different formats
We all know that creating a text only website is boring and not attractive to potential customers. You can also deliver content through other various formats such as audio, video and animation. These formats can help create an interesting and attractive website which is very important. It is a fact that the attention span of the average web browser is decreasing as they spend more time on the Internet and they have more websites to browse through (let’s leave Facebook out of this conversation). Therefore, you have a very short time to get your message across and images, voice and video can help you attract visitors and keep them on your site long enough to communicate your business proposition. For example, an introductory short video can be used for that specific objective. A video containing a brief explanation of what it is your business stands for and the advantages your products offers can often be done more effectively then text explanations. You need the text for many reasons, but enhancing the text with video and other content delivery formats can be highly effective.
Make sure you have website analytics
Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of internet data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage; which basically means that you can learn a lot about the performance and effectiveness of your website by reviewing visitor statistics. Analyzing the number of pageviews, pages/visit and time on the site can tell you a lot about whether users are finding you website useful. Generally speaking, the higher the numbers the better your site is performing. However, you need to take the kind of website into consideration. Some websites are more inclined to have longer visits than others. It is also important to look at the navigation summary which informs you on the pageview percentages as users drilldown to deeper levels of content. The deeper the content the lower the pageviews, which means that less visitors are viewing those pages. If important pages are not getting enough views this is a clear indication that you need to flatten the navigation and make the page accessible from the homepage. If your site does not currently have analytics installed make sure you install a tool as soon as possible. Google Analytics is a very good FREE option.
If you are interested in implementing these techniques but aren’t sure how to pull it off, contact eComand Solutions and we can help you succeed!