Denver Web Success generally doesn’t just build pretty websites; we carry out search engine optimization and internet marketing to generate visitors. However, just as important as bringing visitors to your website, is ensuring that they stay on your site. A bounce (where the visitor simply leaves again) does not help you with your website conversion and can even be detrimental to your website ranking.
Once a visitor arrives at your website it is critical that they understand the content and can make use of the site easily. Otherwise your website will fail. Website usability is a bit like a joke – if you have to explain it, then it’s not very good!
Here are some website usability elements you should consider.
It is important that your website is quickly, easily, and always accessible to visitors. This can include:
- Server Uptime and Speed: Most web hosts now offer impressive 99.9..% uptime on their servers, though some hosts do overload their servers with websites, which can increase page load times.
- Easy to read on any device: There are many elements to this aspect of usability. Yes, your website should be responsive, so that it can be used on any screen size, including phones, without the need to zoom; in fact, Google will now penalize you if it’s not mobile-friendly. It is also important to have a clean layout, reasonable font-size spacing, sensible colors (especially for text/background contrast), etc.
- Technically sound: Your website needs to work well technically, avoiding database access or coding errors, ensuring that there are no broken links creating 404 errors, overlapping or out-of-place elements through poor markup, etc.
We occasionally come across very unique websites, but they can be difficult to use. Most websites, especially those for business, should stick to clear and familiar layouts:
- Logo: Make sure that your logo, usually within the header area, links to your home page. Most visitors expect this.
- Navigation: Make your menus obvious and in familiar places (see Navigation section below). It is often acceptable, and perhaps advisable, to separate out your services/products for primary navigation, and then have a smaller, secondary navigation menu for Home, About, etc.
Google says that “content is king” – it is certainly important for usability:
- Clarity: There is no need to create overly-complex websites. Keep everything clear and concise. Make good use of headings and sub-headings so that visitors understand the content – this will also help with your optimization.
- Readability: People find it quite difficult to read and digest large blocks of text. In addition to good use of sub-headings to break up the content, utilize shorter paragraphs, numbered or bulleted lists, images, white space, etc. to make the content easier to read.
- Consistency: A visitor should understand your website layout from the first page they land on. Do not confuse them by changing the layout, styling, fonts, or colors across pages.
If you truly want people to interact with your website, then they need to be able to navigate it easily:
- Consistency: Your navigation should have the same location and format across every page. Also, do not hide it – most visitors expect to find a horizontal menu below your header, or a vertical menu to the left of the content.
- Completeness: Ideally, your navigation should enable the visitor to quickly get to any section of your site. Drop-down (or fly-out) menus can help with this – but not more than one or two levels. We understand that getting anywhere in one click can be impossible on larger sites, but you do want to make it as quick and easy as possible for the visitor to find and navigate to the content they are trying to find.
- Content Links: You do not just have to rely on menus. Include appropriate content links to help visitors navigate quickly – this can also have the side effect of improving your optimization. When doing so, make sure that the text links are obviously clickable.
- Search: A search is definitely not necessary on all websites, but large sites, blogs, and shopping sites should always have robust search functionality to help visitors find content quickly.
- Site Map: Do include a text-based site map, and link to it from every page. Visitors can use this if they become lost, and it gives search engines links to find all your pages.
There can be many other elements to website usability, some of which tie in to conversion rate optimization in order to achieve a good return on investment. Denver Web Success utilizes a combination of web analytics, proven techniques, and 27+ years of design experience to help you achieve good website usability.