Web site usability and user experience (UX) go hand-in-hand, and have a huge impact on how well your web site performs. You can do this yourself, although hiring a specialist is well worth the spend, as they’ll spot things you never though of, guaranteed. A colleague who specializes in this area recently scanned the first page of a client’s site and found 10 things that I hadn’t even noticed in my overview.
I’ve listed some of the basics here:
- The most basic testing includes checking the basics like spelling errors, redundancies, load time, etc.
- The most important information must be above the fold. Get your visitor involved in your site right away. Don’t make them scroll down to find out what your site is about.
- Major navigation should be easily found, without the visitor having to scroll down. It should be simple and intuitive. Keep it consistent on every page.
- Use the site as if you were a first time visitor, and check for any areas that may confuse them as to where to go next or what action to take.
- The site should be set up so the visitor is directed where to go next. If it’s too confusing they may leave.
- Review the content for adjectives that are meaningless to the visitor, such as unique, superior, interactive.
- Delete any fluff aka marketing copy. It’s meaningless and takes up valuable space.
- Use font size help the visitor focus on the most important parts of the page. Make sure your text is readable – don’t use a tiny or pale gray font.
- Don’t be unconventional in the basics. People expect navigation to be in certain places, for example the RSS feed button the upper right, and the logo in the upper left.
- Make sure there is consistency of design throughout the site, including fonts, colors, etc. The visitor experience should flow…they should not have to readjust at each new page.
Call to Action
- Make sure you have a “call to action” on every page. The visitor needs to know what you expect them to do. A call to action can be a phone number, contact page, button to click, or form to complete.
- Fill out and submit your contact form and make sure it works; where does the site redirect after the form is submitted – is there a thank you or confirmation page? Did you get an email with the information or did it float go off into the Ethernet?
This is just the beginning; it will give you a start in usability testing, but you can (and should) go much farther with it.
My next post will review some of the available Accessibility and Usability tools you can use to analyze your website.