Website Usability: The Ease of Using a Website
Your website is the first, and the most important window into how your business is run. All of us, as website users, are used to certain website standards. And trust me; most of such users completely believe that if you are cutting down on your website, you’ll definitely do so with your products and services.
Website usability forms the very basis for an impeccable user experience. It’s the users that must find your website valuable and most of all, usable. Search engines and everything else come later. So, if you cannot cater to your end users, why even begin with your business?
Compromising on your website’s usability and functionality is therefore not an option. After all, what’s the point of having a website it people cannot use it?
So, how do you identify if your website is actually a hit amongst your users and is not ignored like most of the low-cost, mediocre websites? How do you identify whether it’s actually usable or not?
I have compiled a 50-point usability checklist for quick insights into your website’s usability. This is a do-it-yourself website evaluation solution, and therefore, at no point would you need a professional or an online tool to guide you through the checklist.
It’s simple, as per the set standards, and a great way to understand your website’s strengths and weaknesses.
Further, I’ve divided this checklist into different website aspects like homepage, website navigation, website layout and design, and so on.
But before that, there are 6 major points that require your immediate attention. Ignore these and your website is nothing more than a lost cause.
1. Mobile-friendly Website
The holy grail of website usability is its mobile friendliness. It’s no longer a question of mobile vs. desktop. More than 50% of web visits come from mobile phone and other handheld devices.
Mobile phone is the clear winner. There’s a very high probability that you yourself are reading this post from your mobile or tablet.
A website is compatible for desktops by default. It is the mobile phones that require our attention.
Does your website use flash in any of its pages? I hope not. I wish Flash dies already. No, I’m not a sadist by any means. And you know what, I have got quite a few reasons to support and justify my wish too.
- Flash is inefficient. Period. We have better, much better alternatives for animation.
- It has more than 63 vulnerabilities.
- It lacks device support.
Your flash website won’t run on iOS devices. Say bye-bye to iPhones, iPads and Macbooks. Even Chrome requires a special plug-in to play Flash animations. Seriously, get over it.
It’s 2017 already, and nobody in this world now bothers to update their Adobe Flash Player.
It doesn’t complement your SEO efforts, there are usability concerns, the updates are a real pain, God, I can go on and on. Someone, just stop me already.
Seriously, there’s nothing in this world that you can do with Flash that you cannot do without Flash. Am I even making sense here? Perhaps, yes.
3. Page Load Speed
No matter the way you measure it, the faster your page load time, the better it is.
The first thing that a website user demands from a website is fast loading speed; every sparkling that you’ve added on your website comes later.
By the end of 4 seconds, 25% of your visitors have already left the page. Add in a couple of seconds, and Voila! No one’s around anymore.
And just in case you don’t already know, page load speed is an important Google ranking factor.
Here’s what you can do about it:
If you already have a mobile-friendly website, kudos to you. Now head to this link and check how your website loads on mobile devices – Think with Google
For everything else, this is your go-to option; Page Speed
4. Where have you placed the most critical content?
This is way more important than you think. Life, above and beyond the fold differs pretty drastically. By above the fold, I’m trying to imply everything that’s visible without a scroll.
Both our users and Google want the most important content to be above the fold.
If it still isn’t obvious to you, please allow me enlighten you further. Anything above the fold, within the spectrum, is a new user’s first interaction with your website. First impression baby, it matters, always.
And for returning visitors, it is a revival of their familiarity with your website. Nostalgia? Anyone?
84% is the average difference in how website users treat content pieces below or above the fold.
So, what do you need to do? Believe in the fold.
Trust me, no one scrolls for fun, except for people with OCD. People scroll for a purpose. What’s better than solving it for them right at the top?
5. Style and Colour
Styling and colouring are two effective ways of differentiating your website. These two, when combined, can easily be the most vital element for branding your business.
Look around, some of the world’s most famous brands are identifiable for their distinct styles and colours. Given how they can so exponentially increase your brand identification without much effort, it only makes sense to keep them consistent across all your pages.
Further, you should make it a point to use the same layout and colouring scheme for all your offline prints as well.
This consistency will make your design much better and easier to use. It will also let your website users experience it in a way you intend them to.
It’s equally important for you to keep in mind that your website’s layout, design and colours should reflect your business’s personality.
Refrain yourself from using stock images. It might be a bit more difficult for certain businesses, but it definitely does the work better.
It clearly indicates that you’re not only authentic but highlights your dedication towards perfection.
No one walks into the mountains without a map or a compass. Why, because they don’t want to move about an unfamiliar place without knowing where they are going. The same goes for websites.
However exciting and creative your website might be, there’s no point if people cannot navigate around it. Keep and simple and obvious, and people will come back for more.
Tell me what would you do if your child wasn’t well? The last thing you’d want is to hunt around the neighborhood, looking for suitable help. Had there been seamless navigation, you wouldn’t have faced the discomfort.
That’s what a logical navigation system does to your website. It speeds up your visitor’s journey, helps them solve their purpose and return.
And kill me if I’m wrong, but isn’t conversion your only goal? There are only 2 ways a customer reaches the conversion point; either through the CTA or through clearly defined Menu Structures.
CTA or Call-to-Action is a simple prompt with this super power to evoke an immediate response. It is fundamental to the success of any website lets your visitors take the actions you desire.
One of the most important elements on a website, an effective CTA creates a sense of urgency and can have a thrilling effect on your website.
And what a menu structure does is that successfully guides people to whatever they are looking for on a website. So how should you define and design your menu structure?
The best and the most proven way is to form an ‘F’ pattern. This is so because most of the internet users have this reading pattern where they first glance horizontally through the top-most frame (which is where the menu is supposed to be), move down further and then horizontally scan a briefer screen. Then finally, they vertically scan the content on the left.
Some other components of a usable website are landing pages and enquiry forms. And while there’s no exact potion that ensures landing page/enquiry form success, you can use some of these rules to perfect them:
- Eliminate distractions: you cannot afford to lose your visitor at this point
- Reduce friction: cut down the mandatory fields; keep your form fields limited
- An easy CAPTCHA, or maybe no CAPTCHA at all
- Like I mentioned above, keep the form/landing page above the fold
Now coming back to where I left, this section-wise list below is all yours to experiment with.
Here we go again:
A website’s homepage is a customer’s first point of contact with your business. It wouldn’t be wrong to call it your business’s face to the world. It is, therefore, pivotal that it crisply informs the users what your business is all about while simplifying the content as well.
1. It’s important that your homepage creates a positive first impression. This will help you support conversion.
2. Does your home have a search button? It doesn’t matter whether your site is large or small; you ought to have a search box.
3. Is your contact information accessible from the home page?
4. Your homepage needs to serve as a real portal to your website. It means that it should clearly complement the content on the other important pages.
5. Have you mentioned the product/service categories?
6. Anything important should be either placed on the homepage or just 1 click away.
7. Your website’s homepage should have the most important industry keywords.
8. You have meaningful graphics on your homepage, not clip arts and stock images.
9. You have arranged the most important things above the fold. That is, the users don’t have to scroll further for viewing them.
10. Lastly, your homepage ought to look like a homepage. Any other page on your site should not be confused with it.
Why do people visit websites? To achieve certain goals.
Unless they are a website developer/designer, they aren’t there to have a feel and admire your website. And the need for task orientation thus arises. If your website cannot help people achieve their goals, what good of a website is it?
1. Is your website free of pointless and confusing information?
2. Your website needs to avoid irrelevant registrations. Instead, try and communicate benefit with free trials, as much as possible.
3. If your website doesn’t require much clicking, scrolling and navigating, it’s a big plus.
4. Pages shouldn’t refresh automatically. Not even when you upload new content on the page. It confuses users.
5. Avoid excessive usage of graphics, audios, videos, etc.
6. The most visited links on your website are prominently placed.
7. When users fill up their details, they don’t have to mention the same information anywhere more than once.
8. Transparent pricing with no hidden costs.
9. Prices are clearly mentioned next to all products. Very important for ecommerce businesses.
10. A layman shouldn’t require assistance and instructions to do the basic tasks on your website.
12. Unwanted features like background music, flash animations, etc. can be stopped by the users.
13. All your pages and key features work.
14. Your website is not a cluttered mess. Information should be easily accessible; images should be detailed with options to zoom, etc.
Website Accessibility and Navigation
Easy accessibility and navigation support the users in browsing through the site and finding information in the site’s vast content. It’s not just an essential scheme of classification but also coerces the users to browse the parts of website previously unexplored.
1. Your content is readable.
2. Your website supports accessible navigation, i.e. it can be completely accessed using a keyboard, without any help from the mouse.
3. Users can conveniently move amongst different pages.
4. They can also return to the homepage with a single click.
5. Your website supports navigation in a logical order, i.e. the more popular the link is, the easier it is to navigate to it.
6. The presence of a sitemap is pivotal for a brief overview of your website’s content
7. It’s also important that the important features are stationary.
8. A breadcrumb trail indicating where the users are on your website.
9. Consistent navigation on each of your website’s page.
10. Consistent terminology all through your website.
11. Your product/service pages have links to similar products/services.
12. The same goes for blog posts, if you post any.
13. Availability of filters to sort out products.
14. Users should be able to access important pages with multiple links.
15. Your website should support the ‘back’ button.
16. Links shouldn’t automatically open in new windows. That is for the users to decide whether they want it on a new tab, new window or above the same page.
Page Layout and Design
Your goal, as a website owner, should be to keep your website aesthetically pleasing and use minimalistic elements. Every aspect should help your users accomplish common tasks they seek to perform on your website.
1. Make sure that your website works well on different screen sizes and hand devices.
2. The most important content is placed above the fold, i.e. users don’t have to scroll to access it.
3. It’s equally important that nothing on your website requires horizontal scrolling.
4. The functionality of different buttons and controls should be clear from their designs and labels.
5. Consistent use of fonts.
6. Constant use of layouts across all pages within your website.
7. Lesser the pop-ups, better it is.
8. Of course, your website needs to look pleasant.
9. Apt use of checkboxes and radio buttons.
10. The images on your pages shouldn’t be confused with advertisements.
- Published on
- September 7, 2017
- Brands Martini