Basic Website Usability Guide

Basic Website Usability Guide

Website usability – basic guidelines.

It might sound like common sense really; I mean every website needs to be usable right? But there are still a lot of websites that fail basic usability guidelines by missing some simple obvious points. So read on for some simple tips to ensure your website is as usable as possible, your users will thank.

Technical stuff.

Website speed.

Web users are a pretty impatient lot, so if your website’s pages are slow to load then chances are your visitors will leave and go elsewhere. Optimising the images, content and structure of the web pages along with using a decent hosting company for your website will help keep your website speed up to scratch.

Image Alt tags.

More and more visually impaired users are going online these days. Using the alt tags to provide descriptions of your images will help users with devices such as screenreaders receive a good experience. It used to be only SEO companies that used the alt tags, so make sure the descriptions match the associated images.

Lost and found.

Make a nice friendly 404 page. If someone gets lost on your website, or follows an old link don’t lead them to a dead end. Your 404 error page (page not found) could provide useful links, a search form or a sitemap to help your users find what they were looking for.

Colours and contrast.

It stands to reason that your content has got to be easy to read for users. Careful selection of colours and keeping the contrast high between text and backgrounds should enable most users to view your content. View your website using different browsers and operating systems, they all display content slightly differently.

Content.

Use text.

Use text wherever possible on your web pages, if it’s all stored within images then screenreaders won’t be able to access it and the search engines such as Google won’t understand what your page is about.

Formatting your pages.

When you write a document on word you probably use headings, sub-headings, paragraphs and bullet points. This makes it easier for users to read your document and understand at a glance what the document likely contains. Web pages are no different, use the <H1> tags for page titles, the <p> tags for the content, bullet points, italics and bold etc.

Using the tags

The <title> tag is usually one of the first areas of attention when SEO is performed on a webpage. The title tag is the web page title, this is the wording that gets used in the search results pages from search engines such as Google. This title is your chance to stand out from the competition in the search results. Keep it informative and relevant to page subject, include a few keywords.

Navigation and website structure.

Being able to navigate around your website easily will help your users to perform the actions you want. Whatever your desired conversion here’s a few point to ensure your users can happily click around your website without getting lost.

Breadcrumb trails.

This simple line of text clearly shows users where they are and provides a simple way to get back to pages they’ve already visited. These also provide users with the assurance that they’re in the right area of your website.

Is that a link?

Links in your web pages allow you to guide your users around your website. Stands to reason that if you want people to follow these links then you should make them clear. Use a different colour or underlines etc. You can also use anchor text to describe the contents of the page they’ll be going to.

The homepage.

Even with the best navigation many users prefer to start from the homepage. Some visitors return to the homepage each time before venturing off to other areas – so including a link to your homepage on every page is a must.

Published on in Design and Redesign.

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Gary

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