Usability is one of the most overlooked elements of Web design, however, it’s also one of the most important. When a user lands on your site, you want them to be engaged in your content and to set down a path that you’ve laid out for them. But each time a usability roadblock gets in their way you stop them from accomplishing that task and risk sending them to a competitor’s website.
Below are some quick wins for SMBs to follow to make sure you’re following usability best practices and helping users to navigate your site successfully.
Global Navigation is a fancy term that really just means that your navigation is consistent through your website. If on your homepage you’re using a top navigation system (for example, like we do at Swatch Junkie) then you don’t want to suddenly change on that interior page and move your navigation to the left- or right-hand side.
Similarly, if your navigation bar shows Home, Management, Marketing & Sales, and Finance as your tabs (again, like up above), you don’t want to change those elements on other site pages. You want everything to be consistent so that it’s easy and intuitive for users to make their way through your website.
Breadcrumbs are a navigational element that helps users identify where they are on your website. Breadcrumbs are best used on sites with a clear hierarchal structure. Meaning, take a look at your sitemap. If you can draw clear lines showing how users would navigate through your site to find information, then breadcrumbs may be an element worth adding to your website. If your site is relatively flat, then this may not be something that will benefit users all that much. By adding breadcrumbs to your site you’re essentially giving users a second navigation structure to help them move around.
Your images can be compelling and your articles can be top-class, but if your users can’t read the text on your website, none of it’s going to matter. They’re going to leave and they’ll probably leave angry.
Whether you’re an eCommerce site with a long list of product descriptions or you’re a news-oriented site with pages and pages of text, your key focus should be on making your content as easy to read as possible. This means respecting white space, using formatting like bullets and text emphasis to make your content easy to scan, keeping paragraphs short, using simple backgrounds, and making your font large enough for your reader. These may all sound like common sense things, but readability is often sacrificed for “flashier” sit features.
Your website should be set up so that it’s easy to use. This may include things like allowing users to accomplish their tasks in as few clicks as possible, not asking them to fill out unnecessary forms, avoiding jargon terms in navigation elements, making sure links and call-to-action items are easy to spot, and other Web best practices. Remember, at the end of the day, you are designing your website for users, not for yourself.
Above are a few simple usability wins that any small business should be able to incorporate on its website. Focus on usability and you focus on your customers.