5 Key Principles that Enhance Website Usability
As a 24/7 sales person, your Website has the potential to be your most powerful asset and the centerpiece of your marketing effort. Studies show that it takes less than one minute for a user to become frustrated with your site… and bail.
Here are 5 key principles to keep in mind to enhance the user experience of your Website.
The core of usability is clarity. If you distract or confuse your users, they will either need more time to find what they came for, or forget their initial goal all together.
Your Website has good clarity when:
- It focuses on what’s important and doesn’t distract your user.
- It creates a consistent experience across the entire Website.
- It guides your user by the hand and shows them what you have to offer, without them having to find out everything.
- It has exceptional architecture. It understands a user’s mental model and how they would expect you to structure the content on your site.
Apple is known for its lean and user-friendly products. Their Website www.apple.com too exhibits extreme simplicity and focuses only on what matters. The overall appearance is minimalist with lots of space.
Credibility is crucial to your Website. It’s about how your Website reflects the reputation of your company and your business. Even if people find the content they are looking for, if they don’t trust you, that content is worthless. It is important that people know you are a real company with real people.
To score on the Credibility front, ensure that your Website:
- Offers a clear “About Us” page together with your contact details and if possible a physical address.
- Avoids incorrect grammar or misspellings. Content plays an important role in the perceived trustworthiness of your site.
- Projects your expertise in the field in the form of third-party testimonials, work references and number of social media followers to win your users over.
Take L’Oréal’s Website www.loreal.com for instance. Besides professional design, which matches the exquisite reputation of the brand, an entire content section covers information about Research and Innovation. This shows the engagement of the brand in professional research and reflects the high quality of its products.
Accessibility simply means that your Website is accessible at all times, to all users, on all devices, all the time.
Your Website has good accessibility when:
- It loads without error. So, invest in good hosting.
- It has no dead links. Nothing sends a user back to Google search results faster than a 404 page.
- It can handle different screen sizes and slow connections.
www.amazon.com is the perfect example of an accessible Website for several reasons. It is optimized for both tablets and desktop screens. For mobiles, there is an explicit version with a cleaner interface and less clutter. Most importantly, the Website has almost no downtime.
How easy it is to learn to use your Website, is what Learnability is about. Your Website exhibits good learnability when:
- Its interface is intuitive, that is, it doesn’t require instructions or a long process of trial and error to figure out.
- It uses what people already know, or if it has something new, it is easy to learn.
Take www.microsoft.com for example. While the Website design is fresh and modern, its familiar layout helps users quickly find what they are looking for. For example, at the top left, there is the Microsoft logo. On the top right, there is a search field. The site has a navigation menu featuring its central content categories. Then, there is a big visual header element with alternating images, followed by a content area with vertical sub navigation menus featuring topics that can be discovered. At the bottom, you’ll also find a social media section and a comprehensive footer area featuring other Microsoft Sites and a lot more secondary links.
Last but not least, relevancy contributes to good Website usability. It is not enough that your Website is clear, your content must also be relevant to your users.
To ensure that your site content is relevant:
- Start with defining who your users are and what their goals are from your site.
- Create user scenarios that demonstrate in which situation people visit your site to find what kind of content.
Nike has done an exemplary job in prioritizing their content with focus on their users. The brand offers sportswear and equipment for different sports. For example, on their Website www.nike.com a user can either browse their store by Men or Women, or browse by sport. They can also browse by their geographical location and the Website lists the products that are available and in the language of their choice.
These five key principles illustrate how a few small changes can significantly enhance a website’s usability. Following these principles will allow for easy interaction, and increased confidence in your website/product, allowing you to effectively engage with more customers.