Website Usability

2017 website Usability Guide

This page is designed to concisely outline all the must have elements of website usability 

     What is: Usability?

A: Usability refers to how a person interfaces with a man made object or in this case software. Your website’s ability to convey intuitive paths with a structure that adheres to what are known to be the normal user patterns of behaviour when using a website would be how you estimate your site’s usability.

     How do I check my site’s usability?

A: A good way to check your websites usability is to have a professional set up a conversion path. This is where a user arrives on your site and completes the goal of the site. If you have an e-commerce site a conversion would be a purchase. If you have a lead generation site a conversion would be a contact.
Within the tools used to analyse site performance there are many ways to review user behaviour. The best way to check the site’s usability is to hire someone who knows how to review past user experiences on the site. For sites already online user testing is now largely obsolete.

Use simple intuitive language on all CTA (call to action) buttons or text and within the navigation.

     What are the basic usability principles?

A: The basic rules have not changed since I started in 2005.

  1. You have 3 – 5 seconds to secure the user’s attention per page before they click away. A user’s eye flow starts top left and moves down to the fold (the bottom of the site that is viewable without scrolling) and across and up the right.
  2. Have as few steps in between the first page the user sees and the last.
  3. Use simple intuitive language on all CTA (call to action) buttons or text and within the navigation.
  4. Maintain a visible site search feature and make sure it works. Test your own in house SERP (search engine results page).
  5. Don’t have any duplicate content on site unless absolutely necessary.
  6. Don’t send a user off site unless it improves their experience on your own site somehow.
  7. Make contact info a part of your header. You header is an include file so it will display on every page.
  8. Keep the site lean.

     How has usability changed in 2017?

A: In the past 6 years website usability has changed a lot. Design show offs saw their sites fall away. Flash was killed off by improvements in HTML5 and because of its inability to interface with search engines well and be read for ranking purposes. One page scrolling sites both vertical and horizontal came about. Most SEO agencies and consultants lost their jobs and companies in a 2012 update by Google that targeted anyone trying to trick Google and falsify ranking signals (all my client’s rank improved when this happened). Its been quite a change.
The staples remain the same but the big adoptions to usability in 2017 are:

  1. mandatory social media
  2. usage of video is very important for usability AND for content marketing
  3. conversion cycles should be shorter than ever before
  4. newsletter overlays are a nuisance but for a variety of reason effective

Video content should get the point across ASAP. Never use autoplay features on your site and always provide context around the video before putting it up on your site.
Best practice is to work it into the content naturally so it shows what you just told. Some users will respond better to video over text content.

A: The biggest obstacle for most is the video aspect. This is a big part of a site’s usability because video integration has been on a consistent upswing leading right into 2017 and its now one of the more viable methods to draw in leads for the 35 and under demographic. A small business has great opportunities but make sure you hire a professional to help you not only use the videos for site usability (and content marketing/ lead generation) but in the creation as well.

video essentials usability

Video content should get the point across ASAP. Never use autoplay features on your site and always provide context around the video before putting it up on your site.
Best practice is to work it into the content naturally so it shows what you just told. Some users will respond better to video over text content.

Social media has been a major player in usability for at least 4 years. Before that it wasn’t as widely adopted nor properly integrated into content marketing strategies. At this point your site’s usability can be affected by the lead generation that sent the user to your site. On top of being essential to SEO, social media is also a very valuable tool for drawing in users. So it helps you rank and sends you leads directly.

For all other content or questions related to your site’s usability please get in touch by emailing me directly or using the contact form available in the navigation.