I have seen a lot of people focusing more and more on the outlook of the website. Well, I agree with the fact that a website should look great but just because your website looks great does not mean that it will be a successful website too. A website has a lot of aspects to it and if you want your website to among good and successful websites, you should focus on other things as well rather than focusing on outlook only. When I say other factors, one of the most important factors to keep in mind is the usability and functionality of the website. Keep the navigation of the website as simple as possible so that user can browse through your website without too much of effort.
As said earlier, having a website that looks great is a nice thing but one should focus more on the usability of the website. Some people might think that it is not possible to have a website which looks great and is also good when it comes to navigation. Good news is that it is possible and all you need to do is design wisely. You can keep in mind the following steps in order to increase the usability of the website. Your website branding should match other marketing efforts including printed brochures and business cards which you distribute.
1. Change The Way You Design
Gone are the days when designers used to design a website on table based layout. If you want to the usability of your website, you should opt for CSS based layouts as they will prove to be more beneficial for your website. The best thing about CSS based layout is that it is supported by almost every Internet browser which means your website will be easily accessible to the higher number of users in comparison to the table based layout.
Also, CSS designed pages use less bandwidth to load hence they load quickly and easily. Nothing annoys a user more than sitting and waiting for a page to load so with the help of CSS you can increase the usability of your website. Such pages are also easier to index when it comes to search engines. At the end of the day, you will have a happy visitor which is all you want. Give your visitors a reason to come back again.
2. Befriend the Feedback
Visitors are the sole purpose behind the creation of your website so it is very important for you to get to know what they think about your website. Give your visitors a way to contact you and provide feedback but make sure it is simple and less complicated. You need to have a contact form but it should be simple and to the point. If you will make it complicated, you will end up losing a customer. If a user has to go through hundreds of steps just to appreciate your website, it is of no use. You can also do a great favor to your visitors by simply putting down an email address of yours and users can send you an email there.
3. Get a Specialized Search Engine
You must have heard of the term SEO and it is gaining popularity with every passing day. SEO basically helps in increasing the ranking of your website on various search engines. Big websites can include a search engine but if you cannot afford it, you should opt for Google free services.
4. Allow Users To Make Changes
Not everyone is used to the font size you have used on your website so you should give your users an option to the text and make it convenient for their usage. Make sure you do not restrict your website by using pixel-specific text sizes because that will restrict explorer users from resizing the text and it would be inconvenient for them. Not every user will be aware of the fact that sizes are re-sizable but you need to provide them with a feature so that they can make the changes according to their convenience.
5. Consistent Navigation
Usability and navigation goes hand in hand. One of the major ways to increase the usability is through making the navigation as simple as possible. A user should be able to move from one page to other without any issues. Also, things should be self explanatory and a visitor should be able to navigate from one page to another and return to home page without any issues.
Tabs, menus, pictures and every other thing in a website should have some harmony and consistency. If a user is confused as to how he can return to the Home page, you are not successful in giving an easy navigation. So create a website which is easy to use, understandable and provides information without any hassle. Users will love your website and they will surely come back to it if they are able to use it.
6. Make the Best Use of the Links
At times, designers create navigational menus only with the images and without any text. In such cases, a lot of users can face a lot of issues because if they are browsing with images turned off, they wonâ€™t be able to see what the image says and you will have a confused visitor at the end of the day. Since users are not aware of a lot of technical stuff, he would assume its some issue in your website and wonâ€™t return to your website again. So make sure you use text in the links in order to avoid any sort of confusion. So, even if the users are unable to see the images, they can read the text and understand what the link is for.
7. Avoid Flash As Much As Possible
I agree on the point that flash intros look really great whenever you visit a website but we will also have to agree with the fact that the slow down the speed of a website hence it takes a lot of to load. A user will think your website is slow and it will also affect the usability of your website. Honestly, no one has enough time to wait for a page to load and see the flashy images and you will see a lot of visitors leaving without even entering your website. If you have a website with a target audience of high speed connections than you are allowed to use flash intros otherwise for me, it is a big NO. You are supposed to make life simple of the users and not more difficult.
8. Usability In Different Browsers
Well, every user who visits your website wonâ€™t be using the same browser so you need to test the usability of your website on all the popular and no so popular browser as you may not know which user would be using IE and who will be using . Your job is to make sure that your website is running on every browser without any issues. Also, your website should look almost same in every browser. While trying different browsers, you need to make sure that images are load properly and every link is functional. Nothing annoys a user more than broken links and error messages such as â€œpage not foundâ€.
The content of the website matters a lot, however, a user will be able to read the content only if he is able to use your website properly. Every website is made for the users, therefore, user experience matters the most when it comes to your websiteâ€™s success. By follow the steps mentioned above and improve the usability of your website.