Have you ever visited a website, clicked on a link and then been taken to a blank page?
Or have you visited a website, seen something that you really want to buy, went to order it and found that the shopping cart wasn’t functioning properly, or that you had to register before you buy?
The above are just two of the common examples of website usability issues…
If your potential customers are reaching your website and then finding it difficult to navigate around, they will immediately leave. If a page on your website is taken too long to load, again they will immediately leave.
Ensuring that your website is user friendly and easy to navigate is vital to your online business success.
Unfortunately, there are many people who do not know the basic guidelines, or just ignore them completely. If you don’t get this right, this will ultimately lead to a lot of frustration for your visitors, and in the long run, you!
I’ve been there myself, and I’m still learning…. Some of my old websites were utterly horrible, but when I learned from these mistakes – conversion improved dramatically!
Whether it is a new website you are building, or redesigning an old one, follow these usability tips and you can be sure that your visitors will enjoy their visit.
This is probably the most important aspect of usability. The style of the pages and text, as well as the colours and navigation, should all be consistent throughout your entire site. Not only does this help with usability, it also helps to build your online brand. These visual cues throughout your site will ensure that your visitors know exactly where they need to go to find what they are looking for!
Notice on this new redesign for the blog here that I’ve recently launched, I have blended in the same layout through the entire website. HWA is my brand, so it’s important I give the right impression for long term success.
A good navigation system on your website should answer three questions for your visitors:
- Where am I?
- Where have I been?
- Where can I go?
Your navigation should be kept consistent throughout your site and you should provide your visitors with multiple ways to find what they are looking for. This can include text links, banners, the good old search box and a site map.
It is also a good idea to use cookie crumbs if you’re running a store type website (home > products > product name > features) as this allows visitors to know where they are on your site and how they got there.
For one of the merchant sites I run, we do this and again – it helps with conversion for both first time and REPEAT buyers.
The quality of content on your website is extremely important. Let’s face it – poorly written content is a turn-off for web visitors.
You also need to ensure that the content you are putting on your website is interesting and engaging. Compelling content that provides value will keep your visitors coming back again and again. Your visitors don’t generally care about you, or your website. At least, not at first anyhow…
They normally come to your website with the mindset of what’s in it for me?
Keep that in mind when you write your content. You are writing for your market and potential consumers. Understand their mindset, know their needs and desires. It’s not all about you. In fact, it’s manly about your visitors!
Good housekeeping when it comes to content includes… using short paragraphs rather than a big lump of text…
When I write, I often use subheadings so that people who are just skimming the page can find what they are looking for easily. Always make sure that you use dark lettering on a light background and don’t make the text too small. Think eye candy, not eye squint!
Finally, proofread, proofread, and proofread…
There is nothing worse than visiting a website full of blatant grammar and spelling mistakes. The odd mistake and grammar issue is OK. Most visitors don’t expect you to be perfect, as long as you can get your message across. However, too many errors will lose you custom, respect and will hurt your brand in the long run.
Images are important to have on our websites because they visually make the pages on a website look less dull. However, although you may have found a lovely flowery picture that you just have to have on every page, stop and think about whether it is actually distracting the visitors.
Also, make sure that any images are not obscuring the text. Personally, I try to put up a related image to whatever the content is about. If people can see as well as read, they will feel more at home and relate to your content more.
For example, if you are writing about a juicy steak, isn’t it nice to almost taste this by looking at a tasty image?
I’m sure you get the idea here.
For affiliate marketing, preselling is everything. Remember, you sell the sizzle, not the steak!
Feed your visitors with taster images and your conversion will improve…
For all images on your websites, ensure that they have appropriate TITLE and ALT attributes. This is the text that shows in an image when you hover the mouse over it. This will increase usability for anyone reaching your website using text browsers or site readers. Plus, you may pop up for some image searches via the search engines – definitely an added bonus!
5. Contact Form
Every website should have a clearly marked contact form. You should also consider providing your visitors with different ways that they can contact you. Consider including your physical business address and telephone number, especially if you are selling products that you ship.
Feedback forms are also a good idea, since this allows the reader to let you know if they have had a good experience or not. Positive feedback can then be made available to future visitors.
By following the above guidelines, you can be sure that your website is user friendly and this in turn – should lead to a higher conversion rate overall.
Another option is to hire a website usability expert who can go through your website and test what is working and what’s not.
Hiring a usability professional will give you the edge over your competitors and ensure that your website creates an engaging experience for your visitors.
I hope you found some useful tips here. Chime in and leave a comment, Ill appreciate it much.