Frequently when designing our web site we assume the behaviour of our visitors, believing they will interact in a certain way. However another points of view have to be considered because not everyone has the same notion and/or knowledge of the information offered in our site. Have you ever cared about the usability on your web site? When a visitor comes to your site, does he know what to do and how do it?
In my opinion the usability on the web is one of the most important features when designing it. It doesn’t matter what you offer in your site whether the visitors are not able to use/access it. Below, ten suggestions have been grouped to help you whether you are designing your web site or you’d like to enhance the usability for an existing one.
Every visitor needs to know where he is, and where he can go. For that purpose, at least the following features are suggested:
- Use categories and sub categories to classify the information. So the visitor can access directly to the right information with fewer clicks.
- Use breadcrumbs to indicate where the visitor is, and even to let him go back as many levels in the hierarchy as wished.
- Use a home button (as a logo, or the domain name) in the upper left corner to give to the visitor the opportunity to “start again”.
- Use a clear search form, with a clear search button. The better option to offers directly specific information requested by the visitor, mainly in large web sites.
- Create a site map to better understand the structure and hierarchy of your web site. This feature becomes more important as your site information grows.
Information: Make it visible, make it readable.
A visitor won’t know where to start with if our web is displaying too much information, at the first look the visitor will see the highlighted information The following suggestions will enhance the display of your information:
- Wherever is clickable has to be obvious. A hyperlink or a button should be styled following a standard. For example, keep the ‘hand-cursor’ for clickable parts, so the visitor will know where he can click or not.
- Use headers (<h1>,<h2>, etc) to better structure the information. Like in a book or document, information follows a hierarchy which is delimited to help searching/indexing when reading it.
- Define the different zones of the web page, so the visitor can recognize for example what is the left-menu, where are the categories, etc.
- Try to say the maximum with the minimum, for example using self-explanatory information instead of excessive or redundant information.
Considering other points of view.
The most important step to perform:
- Make a usability test! Without considering certain conditions such as: budget, scope, the target of your web site, etc; a usability test is mandatory. At least an external person has to test our web site. That will provide you a good feedback about the its limitations and capabilities.
Don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you want to share your opinion about the usability on your web.
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