Schissel Design

Joann Schissel, Certified Usability Analyst

Does your website have hidden usability problems?

Top five usability issues

Your potential customer probably won’t tell you why their visit to your site was abandoned shortly after they landed on the home page. They may not even be able express why they found it unappealing, untrustworthy, or just downright frustrating because it’s not something they can consciously explain. Why do some websites engage their customer and produce conversions while others languish virtually ignored? Here are some usability rules of thumb for making your website look and function in ways that will offer your customer a great visitor experience.

Homepage

The homepage should clearly demonstrate your value proposition and identity. If the visitor doesn’t understand what you do or who you are, they won’t be able to click the exit page button fast enough. Your visitor doesn’t have the time or patience to figure out what you want to convey, they’ll just head to your competitor’s site.

Navigation

One of the biggest issues with many websites is the lack of navigation that supports a comprehensible architecture. Visitors want to be able to find the desired information quickly and easily using their own sense of vocabulary. Many business owners tend to build their website navigational labels and sections to align with their internal systems and company jargon instead of viewing it from the perspective of the customer that doesn’t know or care about the company structure and company-specific terms.

Content

Content refers to text, graphics, images, videos, or any elements that help satisfy the informational needs of the visitor. Content not only has to be presented well visually, but also have meaningful information that has value to the visitor. Content should be organized in distinctive, descriptive, and balanced categories. This allows the visitor to find information quickly.

The editorial style and tone needs to have a consistent branding voice and offer useful and concise information that guides the visitor toward conversions without “selling” to them. No one will read bloated, self-congratulatory text about how great you think you are. Instead, this “happy talk” needs to be replaced with information that builds genuine trust with your customer.

Presentation

The presentation of the webpage refers to how it is laid out, use of colors, graphics and typography. The layout should have a balance of consistency and variety. Information should be grouped using a grid structure (horizontal and vertical alignment points) that creates a sense of order and space.

Use colors that reinforce your brand and associate you with your product. If your product identity does not include yellow in any branding, then your website probably should not have bright yellow as the main background color. Colors can emphasize information and bring attention to a section, but be sensitive to using color in a way that can hinder readability or accessibility for vision-impaired visitors.

Graphics include photos, diagrams, illustrations, infographics and any kind of visual content that help explain or enhance your message. Graphics used on the web need to be optimized for viewing on a screen which means they need to be a high quality visually, but have a small file size for fast download.

Typography is how type is used on the page. It is important to maintain a clear hierarchy of text consisting of headings, body text, footer, and captions. Heading sizes can also be an important consideration in accessibility when a visitor is using assistive technology such as a screen reader.  Use headings largest to smallest and don’t mix up headings in unpredictable ways. Use bold or italic attributes sparingly. The question of using a serif or san serif font is not as important as keeping good legibility, whatever web font you decide to use. Contrast is needed between the text and the background in order to make it easy to read.

Interaction

Website visitors demand seamless interaction when trying to accomplish tasks on your site. Use conventional clues that visitors are used to seeing. For example, if you want visitors to click on a text or image, be sure it fits the mental model of something that would be clickable. For example, a large button shape with the word “submit” would most likely be understood as a clickable action that will send your form or message to a receiving destination. Good feedback on success of the action (thank you for your response) or failure of an action (please complete required information) will assure the visitor has performed the task correctly or needs to adjust something.

Being aware of usability issues and making corrections to those issues can make the difference between a good visitor experience and a poor one. Good visitor experiences are much more likely to result in customer conversions and higher ROI.

For a expert review of your website contact Joann Schissel, Certified Usability Analyst (CUA), and find out how your site can produce better visitor experiences.

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