Website usability - providing a great user experience
Fri 11th May 2018
Website usability is something I talk about a lot with clients because it's not enough to get visitors landing on your website, you need them to stay there and engage with the site. Good website usability converts visitors into customers. It enables visitors to find what they need, understand who you are, what you do and why they should choose you.
Every visitor will arrive on your website with a goal in mind. Some may want to buy a product or a service, others might want to find your premises while others are looking for information. Your website should help them to reach those goals quickly and easily and your website designer should have this in mind from the outset.
When looking at website traffic statistics, one of the key ones you will see is the 'bounce rate' this is the percentage of visitors who land on the site but then take no further action and leave. An average bounce rate is around 50%, a good bounce rate is anything under 40%. The bounce rate is more than just a statistic though, if lots of visitors hit the back button soon after they land on your site, that tells search engines that they didn’t find what they were looking for and if that happens a lot your website could slide down the search results.
There are lots of reasons why a visitor might not make that second click. They might only have wanted to find your phone number or address to make an enquiry or visit you BUT they might have left because they didn’t find what they needed or had a poor user experience on the page they landed on.
Key points for great usability
- Focus on important elements that help visitors achieve their goals and eliminate clutter. Don't distract visitors from doing what they came to your site to do.
- Keep things simple and don’t get too carried away with design for design's sake. Make it easy for visitors to contact you, learn about your products or services and complete purchases.
- Consistency of design and layout across the entire website is more user-friendly than variety. Lots of fonts, sizes and colours or different layouts for each page can distract and disorientate users.
- Use clear, intuitive navigation. The easier it is for people to find their way around, the quicker they’ll complete their task and the more likely they are to come back.
- Structure information logically. Plan how a user might find information, and how you might add to it in the future.
Relevancy is crucial to good website usability. It won't matter how good your website is in other respects if the content is not what your users are looking for. Having irrelevant content doesn't just create a bad user experience on your website, it can, as mentioned earlier, increase the bounce rate and negatively affect your search rankings.
As well as being great for SEO in itself, good quality, well structured, relevant content creates a great user experience and will encourage visitors to spend more time on your site. When this happens search engines will recognise that and you should benefit with better search results.
You need visitors to trust your website immediately, they will make split second decisions about whether your website is what they need. Low quality content, slow loading, lack of relevance and lack of clarity make a poor user experience that will drive potential customers away because they won't trust you.
Keeping your website consistently available. If people try to visit and it isn’t up and running or doesn't work, they probably won't come back. Fast and reliable hosting is key to this. Most web designers will offer website hosting.
Don't just make your website responsive, go one step further and make it work really well on all devices. Page elements shouldn't simply resize for devices, the layout of the site should be designed for tablet and mobile as well.
A successful website is designed and built for current and potential customers above and beyond anyone else. They should arrive, know that the site is trustworthy and relevant to them, and then they should be able to achieve their objective quickly and easily.
Have you found this useful? You might be interested in some of my other articles:
Do you need a well designed website that provides a great user experience?
by Rachel WatsonTweet