Does your website pass the usability test?
If your business is well-established, your website has probably been online for some time now. But with the internet still in its infancy, businesses are still finding their feet when it comes to successful online marketing. How do you know if users are getting the most out of your site?
Of course, regular checks on your stats and analytics reports will give you a good idea of the paths your users are taking, but won’t tell you how to solve any problems that come up.
Why is usability so important?
Poor usability on your website ultimately leads to lower conversion rates. If you’re serious about getting the right results from your online presence, you need to look carefully at how your website is organised, presented and coded.
Orientation tells users they’re in the right place
When users first land on your site, how do users know that they’re in the right place? It should be obvious within the first few seconds of looking at your site what your business is, and who it’s aimed at. A key element in achieving this is the tagline. Right under your business name, or somewhere near the top, you should sum up what your business is all about. It doesn’t have to be clever or cryptic, or written in marketese. Just summarise your business in a way everyone can understand.
Navigation leads users to your content
The important word here is ‘lead’. Leading your users through your website is more difficult than you may think, and there’s more than one way of getting the results you’re looking for. One of the main areas you need to look at is navigation.
If your site contains a lot of pages, you should think carefully about navigation. How many times have you landed on a site with a dozen or more items on their top-level menu? It may seem intuitive to someone who knows the business, but too many options all-too-often lead to confusion. A confused user doesn’t part with his money easily. As a rule, try not to have more than 7 items on your top level navigation. For sites with a lot of pages, a drop-down menu is a good solution. But be careful not to over-populate your second level with links, either. Try to break your content down into small, more manageable categories for a more intuitive navigation.
Keep layout simple and uncluttered
Unless you’re a newspaper or magazine, having a lot of columns on your website isn’t good for users. If you want users to read and respond to your content, a single column is most effective. Most sites have at least a second column, or sidebar, which can work well. The trick is knowing what to put in your sidebar. An effective layout should focus on the body copy, with the sidebar reserved for things like testimonials, related products and such like. Always have the body copy on the left.
Better accessibility means more sales
Your website serves your business by serving your customers
It’s easy to think that your website is there to serve your business, but in order to be successful, it should serve your prospects and customers. If they’re not finding what they’re looking for quickly and easily, then your site is suffering from poor usability. Get it fixed, and you’ll notice a surge in responses and conversions.