Make sure you check your website against our usability checklist to ensure your web presence is user centric and user friendly.
· Make sure the content of your website is ‘web friendly’. By this we mean ensure that the actual content is readable and not a regurgitation of the company brochure. The web user wants to be spoken to directly, they do not want to read the salesman patter of your offline promotional documentation. Always ensure you speak directly to your user rather than ‘at them’.
· Make content easy to find throughout the site and ensure that the user finds what they require. If the information is not there, the user will show no mercy in going elsewhere. This does not by any means mean that the site must be a dull flat text only site.A good design will always include natural and intuitive navigation, that will bring the user to the desired information in the least amount of time, whilst still being aesthetically pleasing and maintaining the company brand. With a low-level attention span, the user wants instant gratification and whilst finding it quickly they equally don’t want to get lost in the site. It is essential that the navigation should promote this and guide the user to their desired destination as soon as possible.
· It is important, that when designing a site or looking at usability procedures, the site should satisfy both the novice and savvy web users. The user is not a homogenous group and because of this, ensure you test the design and the navigation of your site with as many different types of potential groups as possible. Feedback loops should be set up between the user groups, you and the designers to ensure the continual evolution and growth of the site. Make sure you remember the context of your site. Different sites have different requirements. E.g. speedy downloads may be a necessity and images on the site may have to be kept to a minimum. For sites that require visuals, the requirements are different. Know your user and design for them and not you.
· Make sure your site is focused and the purpose of its being is clearly identifiable to the user. Ensure you site provides what it says it will provide. For example, a company we recently worked with told us prior to any services that they were the top UK history resource. When we analysed the site it was just an incomplete glorified listing directory with little substantial content that would be seen as a useful resource.
· Ensure your site is as accessible to as many people as possible. This will ultimately increase both the traffic and reputation of the website, ensuring users will return to your site time and time again.
· You know the old adage what’s the point in a website if no one ever sees it? Well whilst that is true, the other end of the spectrum is also true. What is the point of a website that can be seen by all, but is actually hard to navigate around and offers nothing by way of usability? Make sure that you optimise your site so that the user finds what they want and don’t leave your site to go to your competitors.
And remember when you are analysing your website, always expect the worst. We don’t mean to be bringers of doom and gloom. Far from it in fact. Looking out for all potential glitches at the development stage ensures potential short and long-term problems are ironed out.