Web design has many different focuses within its scope, including usability. Usability is essentially the practice of making a particular website easy for visitors to locate the information they’re looking for. While many agencies spend a lot of time and money researching the tendencies and patterns of users to determine the best usability practices to implement on a given site, a lot of times just some general knowledge can go a long way. Here are a few tips to enhance the usability within your current web design.
1. Utilize Site Maps
Site maps help simplify site navigation as well as improve search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Site maps essentially break down a website by page, making it easier for users to find exactly what they came looking for.
2. Include a Site Search
Having a site search text field where visitors can type keywords is a critical element to any web design. The suggested length is at least 27 characters wide so that it is easily visible. Users tend to scan web pages in an F pattern, meaning the start at the top left and continue to the bottom right. Keeping that in mind, your site search should be located somewhere on the top of the web page. A “search” button should also be included close by so that it is clear what the function of the text field is.
3. Develop Pages that are Easy to Scan
Research shows that most visitors don’t read web pages in depth, instead they scan through them looking for something to catch their eye, such as titles, emphasized text or lists. Remember, web users scan in an F formation. To reinforce this, you should use the inverted pyramid method when writing content. This method places the most important information at the top, supporting details beneath and finally related information towards the bottom of your articles.
4. Use Images Strategically
Using the right images and graphics is another important element in web design. Visitors often overlook stock photos and irrelevant graphic design. Graphics should be used to support a web page and its content not simply to decorate it. When used properly, visuals can enhance readability by substituting or supporting larger amounts of text. An eye tracking study done by Nielsen concludes that web page visitors often pay closer attention to images that contain applicable information to what they are looking for.
5. Keep Content Concise
Web users usually have very short attention spans, therefore they’re not likely to read a lengthy article in its entirety. Web content should be short, contain keywords and be easy to understand when looked over quickly. Studies show that in the best case scenario, visitors only read about 28% of the text on a given web page. By using headings and bolded text to break up longer articles, visitors are able to locate information at a quicker pace.
So in an effort to keep this short and sweet…That’s all folks (at least for now).