Creating a website is one of the most critical marketing strategies for launching a successful small business. Time is spent planning content, getting the brand look just right and implementing search engine optimisation strategies; but often web designers or web DIYers forget the basic imperative – is it easy to use?
This post will discuss some key considerations to ensure usability is on the top of your list when designing your website.
Top 5 Tips for Usability
1. Text to Graphic Balance
We sometimes feel the need to say everything on our home page, in fear that users wont delve deeper, or to maximise SEO opportunities. On the flip side, other businesses put only graphics, mixing stunning pictures with graphic text. When it comes to prioritising the browser’s experience, we recommend aiming for balance. A small paragraph of keyword rich text placed towards the bottom ticks off SEO, while an image slider towards the top of the page lets you show case imagery with variation and reduces you page’s load time. You can also break up your home page into sections and use different column configurations to keep it interesting and well balanced.
When I land on a website, I usually want to get to where I need to go, and quickly. A clear navigation panel, whether it be horizontal or vertical, is essential. It can be tempting to get creative with headings, but think of your user; will it make sense to your target? Or are your being too creative? Use your navigation panel to organise your content into logical groups. Drop down menus and expanded lists off main headings are great if it helps your user narrow down where they want to be. Also consider easy ways for your user to get back to the prior page or home page.
3. Key Messages
When you monitor your website traffic, you hear about Bounce Rate. This is the percentage of people that click off your website within 5 seconds of arriving. 5 seconds – it probably took you longer to read that first sentence. With such a small amount of time to make a big impact, it is crucial your key messages are highlighted. What sets you apart from competitors – Free Delivery, Capped Delivery, Free Returns, 24/7 Customer Service, Award Winning; whatever it is, make sure your target will see it within 5 seconds of landing. Is social media a large part of your strategy? Ensure you have sharing buttons, embedded news feeds and sign up buttons all within plain sight. If you are aiming to drive blog or newsletter subscriptions make sure you have sign up boxes with clear reasons why browsers should take action “Sign up to our newsletter for the latest info and monthly promotion” or “Sign up to our blog for a free property market insight report every week”.
4. Contact Details
Your website probably won’t answer every question every user has, and if it does, some users want to make contact with a person or at least know the opportunity is there. Make sure there is a clear call out to your contact page, whether it is on your navigation panel or a button. If you have a contact number, consider putting it on the homepage; and if you have an email address it would be great to put that on the contact form page and if possible on the homepage. I know personally I have been frustrated in the past looking for a contact email address, scouring social media pages and the website and not being able to find one, and have given up contacting them all together. One way to ensure a user will always be able to contact you is by putting a generic contact form in the footer of your website, that way no matter what page of the site they are on they can contact you immediately.
5. Setting up Links
This final tip for usability is a great benefit for your user and also for your website dwell time. Set up your links to external websites so that they open in a new window. This means when a user clicks on that link, your website does not disappear. Instead the new content appears in its own window, meaning your traffic stays on your website and your user won’t have to “find their way back” to you or worse still, forget to make it back to your site at all.
What about Responsiveness?
When considering usability it not only important to think about who is using your website, but also how they are accessing it.
As time has gone on more and more people are accessing information remotely. This means the majority of your site traffic could be coming from mobiles, iPads, etc. These devices have displays much smaller to traditional computers, and therefore websites need to be designed to react to these devices.
So before you sign off on your website to go live, make sure you check how it responds across an iPad, iPhone, Tablet and Smart Phone. Is it still meeting the key useability benchmarks? Does it still look great? Do all the features you have included work on these mobile devices? Are your menu or images being cropped?
Do you want to determine whether or not your website is responsive? Check out our video How To Tell if My Website is Responsive. It’s easy to use your browser to test any website for responsiveness if you know how.
If you would like a second opinion on a website you’re about to launch or one that’s not delivering the results it should, our Wise Up Online Package includes a website effectiveness audit and a 20 page report uncovering the truth about your website, helping you to identify how you can unleash it’s true potential.
Until next week, U is for Usability and only 5 Posts to go in the A-Z of Marketing! What would you like our next series to be on? Comment below or email email@example.com