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For our latest article, let’s look at usability on your website. It is of course vital that your customers and potential customers find your website simple to follow, intuitive to use and attractive to look at, so here are 10 points that you can check through to ensure that you never lose a visitor to your website before they have finished using your site.
Unique designs are a fantastic way to attract users and create a memorable product, however, there are certain conventions that are often best to stick to. Links need to contrast with background colour and at the same time stand out from the text. While there may be a few different colours that achieve this within your own designs, with blue being browsers default colour for links, using blue will make your links quicker for users to locate.
Tests have repeatedly shown that when users are looking for a specific item of information on a web page, or are engrossed in reading content on a page, they will avoid even looking at advertising on the same page. One knock on effect is that any of your own content that just looks like an advert will be avoided. It also means that you can disguise adverts as content, but this means that the users may start to mistrust your website and avoid clicking on any links so use this method carefully, if at all.
It has been observed for many years that people respond quickly to other people’s faces. Humans are instinctively drawn to eyes, mouths and faces which mean that advertisers and designers can use this to their advantage. In addition, if someone’s face is looking at something else, i.e. the text to the side of a page rather than straight back at you, then we will also look in that direction. Designers can use this to highlight the parts of a webpage that require the most attention.
If you want people to purchase from your website, or to make a decision about buying services from your company, it is essential to have product information on display. You want to avoid having complicated, hard to read essays on each product but well laid out, easy to read, informative product information will help users make the right decision. One method that is often used successfully is to have a brief, easily scanned description with sub-headings on each product that answers initial questions, but then a further link to more detailed information for when the user needs to find out more.
When you add forms to a website the information can be used to target accurate, helpful information for your clients and get a buy-in from your website user as well. However, there are many forms on the internet that people bypass, what can you do to encourage the right people to fill in the user forms? Making the form easy to read is essential, so that means a structured layout, not too long, with each heading clearly labelled for each part that needs filling in. Labels above each field seem to work best in this situation for readability and usability due to forms generally being scanned and filled in from top to bottom, so take advantage of this fact if possible within your design.
When your design team have created a website that you like it is always helpful to have real-life users test the site before you start promoting it. Some of the larger organisations have huge networks of beta testers but recent studies have shown that you can get real-world information about potential problems with only 5 test users. 5 testers will reveal 85% of website problems, while 15 users will find almost all the problems. So, before launching your site, get friends and family to take a look through your site and give you feedback on anything they think needs changing or mending.
White space is useful for allowing text and pictures room to breathe on a page. You can de-clutter a long item by breaking text up into paragraphs and using white space to group related items together and show relationships between items on the page. White space has been shown time and again to make content more readable and also increase comprehension by up to 20% for your web users. While white space hasn’t been shown to increase performance of a website it is definitely shown to influence positive user satisfaction and experience.
There is no question that a badly designed website reflects on the professionalism of your company. On the flip side of this, a well-designed website is often seen as an indicator of credibility and reflects well on the products and services that your company provide. Spelling mistakes, images not displaying correctly, slow updates, out of date information and inaccurate links will all give a bad impression of your website and therefore your company. If you concentrate on projecting a good image on your website then your audience will get the best impression of your company.
Have you ever tried to fill in a search box and had the start of your sentence disappear out of view? This makes it hard to review the text you’ve written and make any changes so the best way is to show enough space to accommodate longer searches. Research shows that an average search box is 18 characters long; this means that over a quarter of searches are too long to fit in the space available. If you make your search box 27 characters long then 90% of queries will fit in the space provided making it much easier to enter the request you want.
It was thought for a long time that users aren’t happy to scroll down the page when visiting a website but with usage patterns developing all the time recent studies suggest that users are more than happy to scroll down, and in fact, prefer it to adding more pages to the design. Crowding the top of your website “above the fold” with information is a sure fire way to piut people off, but you do need to display enough information to reassure users that they are on the right website before they scroll down to read all the relevant information. Details that need to be displayed prominently include the name of the website, the benefit of the website to the user and a simple to use, clearly labelled navigation so the user can select what to read and where to go in your website.
If you follow these ideas when creating your website then you will be starting from a solid base of design, however you use these ideas though are down to your individual style, the message you want to send and the clients you are communicating with, but get it right, and you can make the internet work well for you and your business.
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