Ease of use is a common expectation that a site is considered well-designed.
Over the last few years, we have become accustomed to certain standards in web design.
To make a lasting impression on your visitors, you need to build experiences that go beyond them on a regular, usable site.
This does not mean that usability has become less important.
It just takes on a different role in web design and now forms the basis of a good user experience.
Ease of use means user-centered design.
Both the design and development process are focused around the potential user to ensure that their goals, mental models and requirements are met. And to build products that are efficient and easy to use.
Here are 5 key principles for good website usability. Be sure to consider these in your next project.
1. Availability and accessibility
Let’s start with a basic, yet central aspect of usability: the accessibility and accessibility of your site. If people try to access your site and it does not work – for some reason – your site becomes worthless.
Not only do users get frustrated, but you also lose new customers and revenue every time your site becomes inaccessible.
Here are a few basic facts about a stomp pad and how it is used.
Server uptime – It is important to ensure that your visitors do not get an error while trying to load your site. Invest in good hosting. Invest in good hosting. We never cut corners here, get a good web host that you can trust. Broken links – Make sure there are no dead links on your site. SEO tools like Ahrefs and Screaming Frog will crawl your site for you and find all the broken links. Mobile Response – Make sure your site can handle different screen sizes and slow connections. Google has also moved to a “mobile-first” index, which means they index the mobile versions of sites. So a good mobile site will help you get better search results.
Amazon.com is a perfect example of an accessible website for several reasons.
First, the desktop version of the site is optimized for both tablets and desktop monitors. The layout is flexible and adjusts automatically when the screen size is reduced. For mobile, there is an explicit version of the site with a clean interface, less clutter and a clear hierarchy of content. This removed mobile version works like a charm – even with a slow mobile internet connection.
Second, Amazon.com has almost no downtime. Obviously, this is what you expect from a company of that size. Still, the history of constant availability makes Amazon a reliable and trustworthy service platform.
Last but not least, Amazon is actively concerned about availability. On their site, they say, “We are always looking for ways to improve the usability of the site for our customers, including people with disabilities.” For screen readers, they specifically recommend their mobile site with a cleaner presentation of the content.
You could say that the core of usability is clarity.
If you distract or confuse your visitors, they will either need more time to find what they came for, or they may all forget their original goals. Either way, they will not find your site user-friendly, and the chances are high that they will leave unsatisfied and with no intention of returning.
Visitors come to your site with certain goals in mind. It is your job to help them achieve these goals as quickly as possible. If you can handle it, your visitors will be happy and you have laid the foundation for a positive experience.
A clear and usable design can be achieved through:
Simplicity – Focus on what’s important. If you do not distract your visitors, they will be more likely to do what you want them to do. Knowledge – Stick to what people already know. There is nothing wrong with looking elsewhere to find inspiration. Consistency – Do not get sweet. Create a consistent experience throughout your site to keep your visitors at ease.
Guide – Take your visitors by the hand. Do not expect your visitors to explore your site on their own. Instead, guide them through your site and show them what you have to offer. Direct Feedback – Feedback is essential to any interaction. The moment people interact with your site, be sure to give an indication of success or failure in their actions. Good information architecture – Understand your visitors’ mental models and how they expect you to structure the content of your site.
Apple is known for its lean and user-friendly products. The extreme simplicity of the brand and focus on what really matters can also be found on their website.
There is no distraction, which makes it very easy to pursue your goals on the site. When you e.g. Selecting the “Mac” category in the top navigation gives you a visual overview of the various Mac products available. In addition, you will get a subnavigation showing all related products relevant to this category. The clear design makes the website as intuitive to use as any other Apple product.
Learnability is another important aspect of usability.
It should be your goal to design intuitive interfaces – interfaces that do not require instructions, or even a long process of trial and error to figure them out. The key to intuitive design is to make use of what people already know, or create something new that is easy to learn.
At present, people are familiar with a lot of design concepts used online. By using these terms consistently, you meet the expectations of your visitors. This way, you help them reach their goals faster. As humans, we like patterns and recognition, and therefore we are better at dealing with familiar situations rather than unfamiliar ones.
If you use new concepts in your design, be sure to use them consistently and give people a hand in the initial learning phase. You can e.g. Offer additional information or instructions the first time they use your site or product. Keep it simple and visual to help people remember new concepts.
Microsoft redesigned their site last year.
Although the design is very fresh and modern, the layout of the site is classic and in line with what most of us know about websites. At the top left is the logo that tells us where we are. At the top right is a search box that allows us to search the site for any term. Below is the top navigation menu with the site’s central content categories. When we click on the links, we get a drop-down menu with all the available content within this category.
Then there is a large visual headline element that alternates between four different images. The headline is followed by what we know as a content area with a vertical sub-navigation menu with various topics that can be “discovered” and some highlighted content. Below is a section on social media and a comprehensive footer area that includes other Microsoft sites and many more secondary links.
The site is very clean and easy to navigate. The familiar layout helps people quickly find what they are looking for.
Credibility is a crucial aspect of any website.
Even if people find the content they are looking for, if they do not trust you, that content is worthless. Your site can cause site visitors to be skeptical of your business in many different ways, including whether you really exist, your reputation, or the quality of your content.
It is important that people know that you are a real business with real people. Offer a clear “About Us” page along with your contact information and, if possible, a physical address.
Of course, your content also plays an important role in the perceived credibility of your site. Make sure you are honest and precise about your content. Avoid mistakes, e.g. Incorrect grammar or spelling mistakes. Do not be modest with your expertise. If you are an expert in your field, make sure people know it. For example, you can display third-party testimonials, job references, or the number of your followers on social media to win your visitors.
The L’ORÉAL brand does a great job when it comes to building web credibility.
In addition to the professional design that matches the brand’s exquisite reputation, they offer a lot of high quality content to demonstrate their expertise.
For example, an entire content section covers information about research and innovation. This shows the brand’s commitment to professional research and reflects the high quality of its products. Another content section deals with obligations, which shows that the brand takes its social responsibility seriously.
In addition to the actual research, the brand also makes use of expert opinions and photographs of celebrities, such as Julia Roberts, to convince people of the quality and popularity of their products. Another indicator of trust is that it is very easy to get in touch with L’ORÉAL. The brand is not only accessible via social media, but also a physical address and phone number are easy to find.
Last but not least, relevance contributes to good website usability.
It is not enough that your site is clear, your content must also be relevant. Again, it’s important that you know your users and why they’re visiting your site.
Start by defining who your users are. Second, talk to them to find out what their goals are when you visit your site. Third, define user scenarios that demonstrate the situation in which people visit your site to find what kind of content. Every design decision you make should result in a more user-friendly website for your users.
Nike has done an exemplary job of prioritizing their content with a focus on their users.
The brand offers sportswear and equipment for various sports. When you come to their site, you can either choose to browse their store for men, women or children, or you can search for sports. Instead of just grouping people by their age or gender, Nike recognizes their visitors as athletes within a particular discipline.
For example, if you Looking for new running shoes, you do not even care about all the tennis or indoor sports shoes they also have. Nike allows you to browse their store according to your very specific goal.
Ease of use means test, test and test again
Good usability is not achieved overnight.
It requires thorough user research and an iterative approach to constant testing and refining.
Good usability depends on whether your site is accessible, clear, credible, teachable and relevant to the people who actually use it.
Sabina is the founder of UXkids and product manager at Usabilla. While her education and interests are broad, Sabina is passionate about enhancing interactive media for all ages. Latest posts by Sabina Idler (see all)