What is meant by website usability? - 3 minutes read
Website usability refers to the many ways in which a website can be presented and formatted, as well as its background functions and capabilities, so that a user can interact with it easily. How usable your website is will often make the difference between someone becoming a new customer or going to a competitor. Here are a few tips for improving your website’s usability.
It’s always a good idea to choose a simple layout where all information and links are presented clearly and consistently or are separated into different, logical sections. If visitors are distracted by images which are too large or lots of different fonts and font sizes, with little idea on what to click, it can be difficult for users to get the information they need and have a positive experience on your website.
The colour of a background and the text on it can make a big difference to how easy it is to read the content on a website. There’s a reason why many websites will have black text on a white background, as it’s much easier to read than white text on a black or other dark background. Legibility also extends to the fonts you choose; most will be relatively simple as the most important thing is the ease of reading, rather than style. While it might look cool to have a logo which looks like calligraphy, for presenting a lot of information, simplicity is always best.
If you look at most news websites (such as https://www.theage.com.au/), you’ll see that they tend to present information in a consistent manner: bolded headlines above a short summary of the article in regular, unformatted text, and sometimes with a story theme (‘Melbourne’, ‘Coronavirus pandemic’ etc) in text above the headline. It then becomes easy to know what to click on as all the formatting is consistent. If you start turning some of the unformatted text into clickable links or make other, inconsistent changes, users will get frustrated by your site.
When a new page is uploaded or updated, it’s always a great idea to check that it doesn’t have any errors, either in the formatting or loading. Users will rarely contact the site owner to advise them that their site doesn’t work, so you need to do this work yourself.
Like with errors, check that links actually go to where they should. You also may periodically need to check old links to see that the site they link to is still active, either on an external website or your own.
You’ve probably experienced being on a website and waiting for what seems like forever for a graphic to load, because someone has inserted the full-size photo onto the page, rather than a thumbnail. This can severely hamper a website’s usability, so always make sure to use thumbnails where possible.
Related to the above, how quickly a website loads will impact its usability greatly, not just in relation to the graphics but the website as a whole. Internet hosting is cheaper than ever, so hosting the website on a fast server with quick load times will improve the user experience.
Given the ubiquitous nature of mobile phones, you have to assume that many potential customers will visit your website from their mobile phones. Always ensure that you check to make sure your website loads properly on mobile phones, with all menus functioning and all graphics loading. Again, potential customers will quickly get annoyed if there are problems (and most won’t send you an email to tell you), so do this work beforehand to make sure your website is usable.
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