Great web usability tips
The overall philosophy of usability is to make the visitor’s job of retrieving information they’re looking for as easy as possible. With that in mind here are five great tips on site usability to get you rolling.
Break up the copy so visitors can ‘scan’ it
Reading copy online is more difficult than reading on paper. They eye can get easily lost at the end of each sentence and it can be tricky to get back to the beginning again.
Placing clear paragraph breaks helps the user read the copy more easily and therefore stay on the page longer to read what you have to say.
A sign of a well laid out page is the creation of an ‘F’ shaped pattern as it moves down the page. So take a look at your web copy and see what shape it is, then place a few paragraph breaks and see what a difference it makes.
Secondly and really important: don’t put any key copy in images, as readers tend to be drawn to the HTML copy and text in images will not be picked up by Google.
Keep the file sizes low so the page loads quickly
For some reasons humans become massively impatient when it comes to pages loading or links working and a slow site will certainly reduce the amount of time people are prepared to stay.
Routers and computers are getting quicker all the time, but there are however still issues with pages loading slowly.
This can be because the images on the site are very large and they have been artificially reduced in the content management system (CMS) rather than at source in a package such as Photoshop. So keep those images trim.
It could also be that the site is experiencing a large amount of users, which will slow the hosting server down. If this is the case, then getting an upgrade on the hosting may be the answer.
Key information goes on the left had side
If you use a Western Alphabet you will automatically go to the left hand side of the screen to begin reading something.
So when it comes to key content and the most important buttons, it is best to keep them to the top left hand side of the screen.
Conversely the least important buttons and content move over the right hand side.
Use common naming conventions
Over time web users have become used to certain naming conventions and phrases and these come in to the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ department of building a site.
It’s an easy mistake to use internal or branded terms for navigation on your site. For example ‘Meet the Gang’ could be used instead of ‘About Us’ or ‘Go and get it’ for ‘Shopping Cart’.
Don’t be seduced by your preferences and keep it simple, as understandable naming conventions are key, unspoken navigational tools which allows your visitor to move quickly through your site. If they can’t move quickly in a way they can understand, they will simply go elsewhere.
Keep the content trim so a Goldfish can remember it
If a visitor goes to a web page and they are presented with a page loaded with copy it is very likely that they will go elsewhere. Your version of what’s important and what content is imperative will almost differ from those in your target audience.
Keeping copy trim and simple will help increase usability on your web page. If you have a great deal to say, then work hard on trimming it down to the simplest detail; breaking it up into separate pages and drip feeding the visitor with this extra content via text links.
Keeping things trim is the reason why this article is ending now.