Website design part one: usability

Usability

We can all name websites that are enjoyable to use and probably can’t name too many that aren’t, as it’s unlikely we’d have returned to them after initial difficulties. That pretty much speaks for itself. Want visitors/customers/prospects on your site? Better make it good then.

Now we’re not a web design agency and wouldn’t claim to be one. However we do manage our clients’ websites redesigns. Why? Because we are marketing scientists (in our humble opinion) and understand what drives audiences to act.

There are a lot of components to consider when building a website but in this blog I’m focussing on what makes it usable.

Here are 11 important website usability tips: 

Research shows first impressions count

This is why it’s important to get it right. Initial impressions last and if you want a prospect to stick around and carry a favourable impression of your business, then make it look good.

The layout is important

By making the website easy to navigate you free up your prospects’ time to concentrate on the important content on your site rather than getting frustrated with fiddly buttons and menus before heading for the ‘X’ in the top right.

A picture tells a thousand words

Websites with pictures fare better when tested on persuading visitors to take action.

Men vs women

Research shows men react well to video and interactive media. It also suggests men are happier to part with personal info whereas women value visual cues on data privacy and secure payments.

The fold

Evidence suggests, perhaps obviously, that all important information should go above the website fold (the bottom of the screen). Visitors need access to all essential info without having to scroll down. 

Personas inform design

Understand who you’re building the website for before you start. Create personas and understand what drives your target audience. Men and women react differently to stimuli. Looking at this from an even broader perspective, Western language visitors read left-right, top down – it’s why most of the website logos you see are located top left of the page.   

Key messages

While these don’t affect the site’s usability, it’s really important they’re finalised prior to build as they’ll inform the website layout and all the content.

Search box

Helps visitors quickly find the information they need without getting frustrated by adding a search box.

Update content

A blog is a vital website addition from an interactivity viewpoint (readers leave comments on posts for example and share content on social media) and from an SEO perspective (Google loves regularly refreshed, keyword-optimised, content).

Calls to action

These need to be loud, proud and targeted. Make sure they’re in the right place on the site (EyeQuant could help with this) to drive your target audience to take action.

Testing

Finally there’s nothing wrong with designing two templates and getting target audience feedback. In fact it’s highly recommended. After all it’s their opinions that matter the most. Host two beta versions of your new site and get a sample of your target audience to carry out basic instructions (find service page A, click product B, leave a comment on blog C) and then get them to feed back so you can fine tune prior to launch. A/B testing is a bit more fine tuned than this and revolves around testing almost identical versions of a website/newsletter with a different call to action in each for example. Great for figuring out what resonates with the people you want to sell to.

 

Read more of our science of marketing series.

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