When designing a website, there are several key considerations in order to make it an effective business tool. Usability design is one those considerations. Does your website perform in a way that serves your customers and therefore serves your business? It may seem obvious, but unless people can use your site easily, they will find another one. Web usability design is all about having a website that allows its users to find what they’re looking for quickly and efficiently.
The key to usability design is that the user does not need to think! The way we read websites is very different to reading printed text. We scan web copy; you therefore need to plan your web pages so that users get this information quickly. Users have also become accustomed to web page conventions, layouts and phrases. Usability is about following these conventions, unless you purposely want to be off the wall. A few conventions to follow:
- Company logos are commonly in the top left corner of the page
- Advertisements are usually at the top of pages
- Navigation toolbars are in the same place on each page either above or to the side of the content
- Company contact details can be found from a ‘contact us’ tab or at the bottom of each page
Even though we need to find ways to make our websites stand out in the crowd, it really is important to follow the basic web conventions as they enhance your website’s usability.
The last couple of years have seen the incredible growth of smartphone technology. This platform has its own convention in terms of usability, which are different to desktop platforms. Again, follow the existing conventions that are out there, but tailor them to the platform they are based on.
It is essential for optimal usability that your site downloads quickly. Users will not wait very long for information to download - they will only wait a few seconds! There are things you can do to increase your download time, research and implement them.