If you are in the process of designing or re-building your site, following these basic steps will greatly enhance your website usability.
One Page One Purpose
You’re not publishing a book so you don’t have to worry about using extra paper! It’s therefore better to create extra pages than to cram information on one page.
Keep every page unique to a sole purpose – this will help to create clarity for the reader and if all the pages are indexed on a well-designed menu then the relevant information will be easy to find; there’s nothing worse than having to scroll through irrelevant information to find what you need.
Also keep reader options on any given page to a minimum – too much choice will confuse visitors and confused people don’t take action.
Step By Step Process
Make sure you have worked out yourself how you would like the “ideal visitor” to use your website; think about how you will introduce them to your site, where they go from the landing page (this may be an opt-in offer or to the About Us or Testimonials page, for example) and the whole buying process they will go through.
This will help you design your site to lead the visitor through the steps you want them to take, in a controlled fashion. Be careful not to make it totally sales-heavy; people are usually after some education, not just marketing – take care to balance your sales copy with the right information.
Make the process clearly defined, with no ambiguities. An example of a misunderstanding that can happen would be a phrase like: “How did you find this website?” There are two possible responses, based upon enjoyment level or location!
This applies to all parts of your page and site, but especially with your call to action. Don’t leave your visitors in any doubt about what you mean or what they should be doing next!
Less is More
Everything you design on your site needs to be aimed at enhancing your sales message. Pink polka dots may look nice, but do they enhance or detract from your main message?
Some good guiding principles are: use only one or two fonts/colours, keep sentences and paragraphs short and readable, use sub-headings to break blocks of text up, use images or video to reduce text and keep things generally clean, clear and simple.
Test It Out
Once you have designed your site, test it out before launching. Get friends or colleagues to visit the site with some predefined objectives; most people won’t mind giving you 10 minutes of their time to test your site.
You can watch them and see whether the site works in practice; different people have different expectations and habits, so observing these will help you fine-tune your website to get the best chance of positive outcomes; you won’t please all users all the time, but you need to optimise for the average visitor.
There is also software available called Clicktale which allows you to monitor mouse movements of visitors – this can be invaluable in assessing whether your visitors are following the paths you expect them to on your site; it can also help to nip any problems in the bud.
You should find that following the above will help you achieve excellent site usability for your end creation. This is just one important area of your online business to pay attention to. The Competition Crusher workshop covers all aspects that any start up business needs to focus on. Watch your copy for FREE by clicking here.
I agree that confused people don’t take action. As an online visitor, I generally click away from pages that do not make sense to me.
I can say right off the bat if the site (that I am visiting) is worth my time. So, that makes me picky on the sites that I frequent. 🙂
I remember when the internet was new, one common problem among webmasters was the inability to stick to one purpose per page… Gone are the days of multi colored sites with links everywhere, multiple navigation boxes and tons of text content.
‘One page one purpose’ – this makes me remember the first rule we had in Journalism class when writing news – ‘one paragraph one idea’. Just like what was stated above, this avoids the confusion among content readers. The ‘less is more’ principle is related to this too. When your ideas/instructions are communicated in short precise sentences, the readers/site visitors make precise actions as well.