October 12th, 2011 | Add a Comment
Usability is the cornerstone of a successful website.
Your site might have excellent reporters producing important content, but if users have trouble finding it or are confused by the structure of your site, all of that effort could be in vain.
Here are our top 10 tips for usability:
1. Know your audience. What are their needs and priorities when they enter your site? Every decision you make about the design and organization of your site should relate back to your users’ needs. Don’t speed past this step. It may take a lot of time and research.
2. Navigation should be simple and intuitive. First time users should be able to navigate the site with little or no instruction. Also keep in mind that users may not enter your site through the home page. Key areas of the site should be consistent and accessible from any page. Always provide a way to get back to the home page.
3. Breadcrumbs show users their path through the site. According to usability guru Jakob Nielsen, users should always be able to answer the questions: Where am I? Where have I been? Where can I go? With breadcrumbs, users can also easily identify the pages they previously visited should they need to go back.
4. Watch your language. According to MIT’s guidelines for usability, language should be kept simple. Avoid using titles, phrases or jargon that new users won’t understand. Paragraphs should be kept brief. Every word should have a purpose.
5. Be intentional about how you organize information. The components of your site should be distinct from each other and should be placed in a clear hierarchy of importance. The most important information should be most prominent.
6. Links should be easy to spot. They should also clearly indicate the content they represent. Think strategically about colors for links. According to MIT’s usability guidelines, the colors used for visited and unvisited links should be easily seen and understood.
7. Don’t take the search bar for granted. It allows users to find specific content and it’s keeping them on your site. According to SixRevisions.com, a website with tips and resources for web developers and designers, the top left or top right sides of your web page are good spots for your search bar. They recommend using vivid colors to make the submit button stand out.
8. Be prepared for errors. Nielsen says web developers should help their users recognize, diagnose and recover from errors. Error messages should be written in plain English, should point out the problem and offer users a solution.
9. Test your site. According to Steve Krug, usability consultant and author of “Don’t Make me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability,” testing reminds you as developers that not everyone thinks like you do and knows what you know about your site. Show someone your site and watch them interact with it. Can they perform simple tasks like sign up for an e-newsletter or more complex tasks like finding a specific article? Krug says testing one user is 100 percent better than testing none.
10. Test again. And again. In Krug’s words, “You make something, test it, fix it, and test it again.” With more than one test, users can identify problems they would have never been able to see in the first test alone. Usability testing is an iterative process that should be done early and as often as possible.
Written by Priscilla Kunamalla
digiwatchdog on Twitter
Warning: simplexml_load_file(http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/DigiWatchdog.rss) [function.simplexml-load-file]: failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! HTTP/1.0 404 Not Found in /home/ricgor7/digiwatchdog.com/wp-content/plugins/twitticker/includes/twitter.php on line 7
Warning: simplexml_load_file() [function.simplexml-load-file]: I/O warning : failed to load external entity "http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/DigiWatchdog.rss" in /home/ricgor7/digiwatchdog.com/wp-content/plugins/twitticker/includes/twitter.php on line 7
Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/ricgor7/digiwatchdog.com/wp-content/plugins/twitticker/includes/twitter.php on line 10
© 2013 Digiwatchdog