Website Usability or evaluation of usability of website and website usability testing are all broad topics but generally focuses on Accessibility, Readability, Performance and the Content Quality of the website. There are many parameters to check to make sure that the website’s usability index is high. For example website load speed is a usability parameter and slow sites gradually tend to loose its readers or customers. Another example is the website navigation.Sites which does not provide proper navigation mechanism usually faces high bounce rate issue.
Highly usable websites results in increased user satisfaction and productivity, high rate of returning visitors, low bounce rate and better presence in search engine index and social media services. There are many good resources in internet that talks about the website usability. This article list down the top ten usability tips that I feel important and critical to any website or blog.

Top 10 Website Usability Check-list

In software engineering  the software quality attributes are normally considered as part of non-functional requirement. The main quality attributes are the Scalability, Reliability, Maintainability and Performance. There are many other important attributes like: Accessibility, Usability, Recoverability, Portability, Operability etc.
In case of websites and blogs as software I feel the important software quality attributes could be Availability, Usability, Performance and Security and Reliability. All these attributes are most critical since that impact the end user. Other quality attributes like Scalability, Operability ,Maintainability etc are the qualities that are important for the organization that power the website.
A public website is accessible from any where in the world. People accessing your Web site have different devices, browsers and/or specific disabilities.
Let us discuss how to improve usability for non-disabled and disabled visitors. Hope that the below checkpoints implementation has the effect of increasing the usability of Web sites.

1. Website Speed and Server Performance

Faster website is  necessary because people hate slow loading websites. It is a know fact that when visitors have to wait more than 2 seconds, 50% or more will leave your site. This will directly impact the readership rate of your website or possible sales.
It is very important to optimize your website and make it fast. You can take many steps like Minification of Scripts and CSS , File caching, GZIP/Deflate compression, Image optimization to ensure the best website performance. We have published many article on Improving website performance and Speed. Here is a selected list of such articles.

2. Situational usage and Device Independence

People use many technologies and devices to access the web. Even if you consider majority or people uses a PC/MAC or laptop to connect to web the same people and others users sometimes uses other devices to connect to the web. This can be using personal digital assistants, mobile phone browsers, or other, less capable Web devices, possibly over lower-bandwidth connections.
The website should be tested on these devices or simulated environment to ensure that the website gets more visibility and better improved page views and number of visitors.
You must test your website in Different Screen Resolutions to ensure that the website is readable and accessible in all these devices.

3. Design, Layout, Error Pages, Duplicate Content and Broken Links

The website design is a critical factor behind the success of any website. It should reflect the personality of the organization or person (if it is a personal blog). The layout should be neat and tidy. The page layout should be clear and should not confuse people. They often avoid a Web site after an initial visit because they encounter difficulties navigating complex collections of information or cannot find what they are looking for in the first attempt. Layout, headings, and styles should be consistent across the website.
There should be mechanism to handle errors and broken links. To find broken links and Crawl errors you can utilize the Google webmaster Tools services. Even Bing and Yahoo also provides similar services free of cost.
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4. Browser Compatibility Check

It is vital to test your website in all major browsers. The Browser Compatibility Check enure that your website will render properly on all the browsers. There are many tools and free services to check browser compatibility check.

5. Clear and Consistent Navigation

As we said people often avoid a Web site after an initial visit because they encounter difficulties in navigating the site. Make your navigation clear and consistent throughout your site. The Logo or the main site heading should link to the home page of your site.
Links should stand out and should not be confusing with your content. Avoid using multi-layerd CSS or JavaScript menus unless you have a wide variety of topics and pages. These type of menus will create confusion to the users. Users can land on any page of your website if there is no authentication mechanism. So presence of breadcrumb menu’s always a good idea because it tell the user where they are.
If you are using wordpress the below topics may be helpful.

6. Clear and Understandable Content

As always content is the king. Clear and Understandable Content will immediately increase the size and breadth of the audience that can benefit from your Web site. Avoid duplicate content in your site. Search engines penalize sites that has lots of duplicate contents. Always use headings like H1,H2,H3 etc to set content layers and keep it organized. Always use these markups to organize documents and posts. Page titles are very important. the <TITLE> Tag should be descriptive.
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7. Usage of COLOR and Contrast

Contrasting colors for page background and text make for easier reading.Dark text on a light background is usually the best combination. You can apply styles for controlling text and background colors to match with environment.

8. Image and Multimedia Text Alternatives

ALT tag is very important for images. Search engines usually uses the ALT description to index the image. Audio content may not be accessible to all users. Providing alternative textual content is a good idea. It is a good practice to use alt and title attributes to properly describe images, links etc. Optimizing images will improve the site speed.

9. Support for Internationalization

Ignoring or alienating potential clients or customers in other countries may not be a good idea. Now there are lot of tools available to provide your website content in other languages. Make use of these free services. Translation services are now available across all the browsers as plugins or as an inbuilt feature.

10. Protect Website from malware infection

This is very important. People and search engines avoids sites with malware infection. You can easily find out whether your site is infected or not. Using Google web master tools or using any free services you can check that your site is free from any malware. Secure your website and blogs from attacks.
There are many important things to consider to keep your site secure. Choosing the trusted hosting provider who performs periodic virus scanning and malware check and securing your sites content and comment system will secure your site to some extent.
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