If you are building a website, whether it will be used to provide information for a particular audience or advertise and/or sell particular products and/or services, or indeed for both of those purposes, then it is crucial that the website is created in a way that makes it useable for many different people.
This means ensuring that the website can be easily accessed through many different devices and web browsers. The importance of usability to a website can often be underestimated, but will be explained further throughout this article.
There is a need for speed
It is important, for example, that a website can be loaded quickly through many different devices and web browsers. This is because, should someone find that a website does not load quickly, they are likely to lose patience with that website and instead try loading a different one. This can obviously cost the owner of the slow-loading website valuable hits and/or sales, and so can prove a surprisingly crucial factor in the success of that website. You should particularly consider that the average website user will not wait longer than 6-7 seconds for a page to load; hence, there is little point in having a high quality website if it cannot be loaded sufficiently promptly.
For this reason, you should try your best to avoid having any files, like images, on your website which are large in size and therefore may take a long time to load. While you might be tempted, for example, to use elaborate background images which will make your website look prettier, you need to consider that not everyone who attempts to access your website will have a very fast computer or Internet connection which can help them to load such images quickly. Furthermore, many people who have high speed Internet will expect website pages to load almost instantly; hence, you should endeavour to optimise all of your website files to have the smallest possible size without sacrificing their quality.
Keep things simple to make things easy
Furthermore, once visitors do successfully load a website, it is crucial that they are not left confused about what the website has to offer. You should remember that your website’s design should ideally cater equally for both people seeking brief information and people seeking more detailed information, and that any confusion experienced by any of these people could tempt them into abandoning the website to peruse another one. What you actually want to lead these people to do is use your website to quickly find the information that they want and then take a positive action – whether that involves taking up advice detailed on your website or purchasing any products and/or services that your website advertises.
Hence, when developing a website it is crucial to consider how it will be navigated by its visitors. For all visitors, but especially first time visitors, you should endeavour to make navigation straightforward and consistent. Make sure that no part of the website is any further than three clicks away. Though there are many different advanced ways in which you can design a website, there is little point in drawing on many of these if they render the website difficult to use. Ultimately, you would be better off sticking to a simple website design if it makes the website easier to use, as this should also make it more successful.
It is also important to keep the website’s structure simple. The extent to which you achieve this will largely define how easy the website is to navigate, which can make or break its appeal among inexperienced and impatient web surfers. Even if your website has a hundred pages, there are still ways in which you can maintain the simplicity of its structure – for example, through using expandable tree menus that clearly show where in the network of the website’s pages the user currently is and what pages the user has already viewed and clicked through.
The importance of uniformity
Furthermore, whatever design is chosen for the website, it should remain consistent throughout all of that website’s pages. This should help to discourage confusion in the website’s visitors and could also extend even to error pages. These pages are the type which typically appear when a broken or invalid link is clicked, and any error pages you create should include information on what may have led to the error. However, bug prevention is always better than cure concerning the usability of a website. Indeed, if visitors to your website routinely experience a significant number of bugs, this is likely to damage your website’s reputation over time.
The importance of website usability in a nutshell
What you ultimately want to provide with a website is a pleasant experience for visitors which makes it easy for them to promptly find precisely what they are looking for. This is crucial for the success of your website, as it will help it to attract an increasing number of visitors and, if you are using the website to advertise or sell particular products and/or services, encourage higher sales of those products and/or services. As word of mouth spreads about the high quality of your website, the website’s visitor numbers and hence success should further increase.