Usability is the measure of how easy it is for a user who has never seen your site before to be able to navigate throughout its pages, to find information they’re looking for and to interact with its content.
In the following list, I’m going to be providing you with some practical tips for dramatically enhancing your site’s simplicity. I’ll walk you step-by-step through the best ways to drastically increase the overall quality of your user’s journey through your website. Follow these simple guidelines and you will dynamically improve the usability of your website or blog.
- Make the most important links large and easy to read.
- Create multiple access points to important content like subscription options.
- Eliminate unnecessary obstacles like captcha systems or mandatory logins.
- Move your advertisements so that they don’t get in the way of the content.
- Place a link to the home page on every page in case a user gets lost.
- Provide a clear and complete about page and contact page.
- Don’t clutter your sidebar with unnecessary links or widgets.
- Provide targeted content and links in the post footers.
- Use a large, comfortable font and provide space between each paragraph.
- Conduct simple, old-fashioned usability testing.
A Practical Exercise in Usability Testing
For many of you that last point was probably a bit confusing. Usability testing simply means that you allow a user who has little knowledge of your site to browse it and to provide you with honest feedback. Take a few minutes out of your day to perform the following practical exercise at your site. This is usability testing in its simplest form and it will provide you with invaluable feedback that can empower you to take your site to the next level.
Practical Exercise: Find someone who has never seen your site before. Have them browse your site for 3 minutes as you stand over their shoulder and watch. You are not allowed to talk to them or answer any of their questions during those 3 minutes. You are only allowed to watch.
At the end of the 3 minutes ask them for their feedback. Do not get defensive about anything they say or ask. For emphasis I feel that I need to repeat this: do not get defensive. Write down their questions or confusions on a piece of paper and make it your goal to eliminate any other users from having those confusions.
You’re natural reaction will be to explain to your test subject the answers to their questions. Remember that when a new user hits your site, you won’t be there by their side to answer their questions so you have to make it easy for them.